This is a model of the Swedish vessel Vasa, which was brought back from the dead in 1961.

Once it was raised from the seabed it floated and was towed to the location set aside for its restoration.

I first saw the Vasa in 1965 during a visit to Stockholm during my time as a cadet in Dunera, which at that time was a school ship.

From memory when I saw her she was in a building similar to an aircraft hanger and being sprayed with a liquid to preserve the her timbers. The liquid, I believe was polyethylene glycol, and she was sprayed with PUG for seventeen years before being allowed to dry out, which is still in the process of doing today.
In 1965 the ship could only be viewed from two levels and we were not allowed to get too close. It made such an impression on me that I knew that I would return one day.
As soon as I heard of the Celebrity Silhouette’s Baltic cruise I checked to see if Stockholm was one of the ‘stops’. It was, so I booked.
The spraying of sunken wooden ships with PUG is now standard, and was used on the British vessel Mary Rose, which was in Henry the VIII’s navy, having been launched in 1511 and she sank in 1545 during a battle against the French.

The Vasa sailed from Stockholm on the 10th November in 1628. She had been ordered to sea to take part in the war, which was in progress between Sweden and Poland- Lithuania (1621-1629). She managed about 1300 meters (1400 yards) before the wind caused her to list, but she righted herself, but the wind blew again and this time she was pushed so far over that her gun-ports were pushed under water and she was unable to right herself, and went over and sank.


From a painting that I found on the internet.


A photograph I took of a plaque in the museum.

In 1961 during the investigation inside the vessel they found the remains of at least fifteen people.

The ship had survived complete destruction throughout her 333 years under water due to a number of factors.

The salinity of the water where she sank is very low so ship-worms can not survive, the waters around the wreck didn’t have any, or very limited amount, of oxygen in it, and the temperature of the water was very low between 1 to 5 c, (just above freezing). The ship was built of oak heartwood, which had a high iron content, plus the vessel was new when it sank.

When they found the Vasa they had to come up with a way of lifting her from the seabed without damaging the wreck itself. The system they used was very similar to the first attempt to float the Vasa, which was a few days after she sank. They used a system of ‘camels’, which has been used by most navies for hundreds of years, when sailors wished to reduce the draft of a vessel in shallow waters.

In the case of the Vasa it took two years for divers to create six tunnels under the wreck, because she was so deep in the mud. They could not risk attaching grab claws in case they damaged her. It took 1300 very dangerous dives to create the tunnels through which wire ropes were passed. The ends of the wire ropes were attached to two barges on the surface, which had been filled with water, so they were low in the water. The water in the barge was pumped out causing the barges to rise, and so hopefully raise the Vasa enough to break the grip of the mud that had half buried her during the last 300 odd years.
Each time she moved the surface crew would tighten the wire ropes fill the barges with water again so they sank a little, tighten the wire rope again, and pump out the water, causing the barges to rise, and drag the Vasa up further. During the months of August and September 1959 after eighteen ‘lifts’ she had been raised 16 meters (105 ft) from the seabed, but was still about 16 meters under the water. This allowed the wreck to be moved to a more sheltered area, which would allow divers to do further investigations.


I found this on the internet, which is a good illustration of a ‘camel’ in operation.

Parts of the Vasa had broken away and buried in the sea mud. These parts were rescued,  cleaned and reattached correctly. The reconstructed vessel today is 98% of the original. Apparently they have found 40,000 artifacts in and around the ship, which has opened  new knowledge of life at that time.


Not all that much different to the sea chest issued to me when I joined HMS Conway in 1960.


This was my first impression of the Vasa during my recent visit. The whole building is atmospherically controlled to protect the ship from decomposing, and they try to keep the temperature at a level that is acceptable to the public.

The ship is HUGE!


A clear view off the gun-ports


Obviously the rigging is new




The main deck had to be replaced because it had been damaged over the years when many of the cannon had been removed.



As one moves aft towards the captain’s & officer’s accommodation area we see the artistry of the carvings clearly. The stern area would have been bolted to the main ship with iron bolts and as time went on, the iron would have rusted away and the accommodation collapsed in to the mud. When this area was recovered they found that  the mud had saved some of the figure’s colour, so that scientists could work out the correct colouring. The accommodation was reattached.



The stern with the detailed carvings still available to be seen.




I stood on a platform at the stern to take this photograph (with many other ‘clickers’) which was about two floors up – note the size of the person on the bottom left of the picture which gives an idea of the ship’s size.


An easier picture to illustrate the vessels size compared to the people underneath.


Three cannon bronze were rescued, most of the others had been removed from the Vasa in the 17th century.


A model of what she would have looked like on the day she sailed.

DSC02782clThe colourful stern.


A longboat found lying next to the Vasa and believed to have been one of the boats towed by the her as she sailed out of port.


Port side of the Vasa with the longboat, along with some tourists so as to compare size.


The museum has recreated the a gun deck (not on the ship but alongside the Vasa. As you see an average person can stand with ease. The guns are all replicas.


The museum has also created a scale model of life below decks.


One can see the stone ballast at the bottom, which was not enough to keep her upright.


To see how they started to clean her click on  VASA  after the first minute the cleaning can be seen.

Tried to buy a booklet of the history of salvaging Vasa, they had a book stand with the booklet in about fifteen different languages, but unfortunately not in English, they’d sold out.

I blame all those cruise ship visitors! :- o)




ABBA’s Home area


DSC02613rAt 122, 000 gt, I thought that perhaps Celebrity Silhouette was too large to berth in Stockholm, and this was the reason why we berthed at Nynashamn, which is forty five minutes, by coach, from Stockholm.
I have since found out the Emerald Princess (113,561 gt) was able to berth in Stockholm during her visit, and she was close enough to the city for the passengers to walk to many sites of interest.
During our visit to Stockholm I did see two smaller cruise ships alongside, perhaps their occupation of the berths, at the time of our visit, was the reason that required us to dock in Nynashamn.

Regardless, arriving into Nynashamn was a beautiful experience with the sun rising over the islands that we passed as we entered port. You can just see our wake in the above picture as we navigated passed the islands.

DSC02615rIt was all very picturesque.

DSC02812rOnce we’d arrived and the ship was moored a floating pier edged its way out to us and was secured for the passengers to disembark. The dark blue floats that can be seen is the floating pier / walkway.

DSC02629rcPerfect weather for viewing Stockholm. As I mentioned earlier I did see a couple of cruise ships in Stockholm, but they were much smaller than the Celebrity Silhouette, about 46,000 gt. each.

Our itinerary included a drive around the city, visit to the City Hall where the Nobel prize banquet takes place. The palace guards, walking around the old area and then the Vasa. This blog will not contain any information about the Vasa, because I intend doing a blog just on the Vasa. 


The City Hall across the water, which was built between 1911 and 1923.
I’ve been told that it contains eight million bricks.


Not sure if you can the three crowns on the top of the tower – the three crowns are a heraldic symbol of Sweden.
We didn’t climb to the top, although one could if you had the time & energy. With 365 steps to get to the top, it is no longer on my bucket list.


Close up of some of the statues as we entered the inner court yard
of City Hall.


Inner court yard


The inner court yard looking back towards Lake Malaren.


View across Lake Malaren – the city hall is behind me.


After passing through the inner court we entered the City Hall.

This hall is called the Blue Hall – all the brick are hand made and the architect was going to paint them blue, but changed his mind, but they never changed the name, although you can see various items painted blue.
This is the hall in which the banquet takes place for the Nobel Prize winners.


In the above you can see the organ, and its location is on the left in the picture above this one.


Of course an organ requires pipes and there are over 10,000 for this organ, all located in the gold balcony. The problem for the organist in this room is that there is a half second delay between pushing the buttons and the sound coming out of the pipes. If they make a mistake it is too late to try and correct that mistake. Apparently there are only three people in Sweden skilled enough to play this organ.


The Blue Hall from the top of the stairs.


I found this picture on the internet, which was taken during a banquet. The Nobel Prize banquet takes place on the 10th December each year (the date Alfred Nobel died) and has done so since 1901.
The presentation of the prizes is performed at the Stockholm Concert hall and the celebration banquet takes place in the Blue Hall of City Hall. The Nobel Prizes are presented to the winners by His Majesty the King of Sweden.

The Blue Hall has been the place of the Nobel celebration since 1930, and the guests of honour are the King & Queen of Sweden.
If you are interested, the hall can seat 1300 guests and is available for public functions.


After the dinner dancing takes place in the Gold Room.

All created with eighteen million golden mosaic tiles. My photographic skill is limited, but may I suggest you click on this link for a full view and you can move the view to suite your needs. Click for 360 degree viewDanceFound this on the internet – Nobel Prize Ball in the Gold Room.DSC02676rBack to the coach for the next stop – the view across the lake from the City Hall.DSC02685rBonde Palace, which has been restored inside to it’s original 17th & 18th century design and is currently the seat of the Supreme Court of Sweden. DSC02690r
I took this photograph because the single table made me think of a romantic meeting that perhaps failed, and is now lost in time.
How long did he wait for her, before reluctantly moving on?DSC02694rWe We’ve arrived in the Palace area.
Is she asleep, of did I catch her when she blinked?
We’ll never know.


A King in the making – I wanted to see this statue because I am interested in the Napoleonic period, and how the links with Napoleon are still there, even today.
In 1809 Sweden lost, what we now know as Finland, to the Russians. Finland used to be part of Sweden.
The King of Sweden was of the the House of Holstein-Gottorp, Gustav IV Adolf, and he failed in his effort to defend Finland. The Swedish people where not at all happy, so they deposed this King & his son in a coup d’état.
Gustov’s uncle, Charles XIII, was elected to be King, but he was sixty one and becoming senile, and he was childless. The House of Holstein-Gottorp would die out with Charles’ death.
In 1810 the Swedish parliament offered the position to a Danish Prince, Prince Christian August of Augustenborg, and he became Charles August, but he died within a year.
At that time Napoleon dominated Europe, except for the British Isles and Sweden, and various kingdoms were in control of various brothers of Napoleon. So for peace and quiet, Sweden decided to choose a king of which they were sure Napoleon would approve. They offered the position to Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, who was a Marshall of France. Napoleon had already created him a Prince, being Prince Bernadotte of the  principality of Pontecorvo, which had been taken, by Napoleon, from the Papal States.
Bernadott was French by birth and had now become the Crown Prince of Sweden, and assumed the name Charles John and was Regent during the final months of Charles August’s reign.

The statute in the photograph is of Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, and the current king  is a descendant of  the French Marshall – and is of the House of Bernadotte.

The city was in the middle of renovating the area, and I am not sure if the metal support (seen in the picture) is to support the statue or just part of the fencing.

It went through my mind that perhaps Abba found inspiration from Napoleon.


A walk a round the old area while we waited for the ceremony of changing of the Palace Guard.


The Kalmaris Union was a union of Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1397 to 1523 under a single monarch.

In November of 1520 there was a clash in Stockholm between the Kalmaris Unionists and the anti-unionists who wanted an independent Sweden.
King Christian of Denmark had promised peace between the Unionists & the Ant-Unionists, and invited, on the 7th November, a number of Swedish leaders to a conference at the palace.

On the 8th November soldiers entered the palace and took away several of the senior members of the Swedish contingent. Later many more were taken – all had been marked down as anti-unionists.

On the 9th November they were sentenced to death by the Archbishop for being heretics.

The executions began on the 10th November in the public square either by hanging or beheading. The public square is known as Stortorget (The Big Square) which is the oldest square in Stockholm and the centre from which Stockholm grew.

The eighty-two white stones on the red building are supposed to represent the heads of the anti-unionists killed in the square during the executions.


On the left of this picture you can see the well, which is still active, because it is connected to the city’s water supply. . . .

There is a slight hicup, with regard to the red building or Ribbinska huset (house of Ribbing) to give it’s correct name, and the symbol of the 82 heads.

The massacre of the noble men took place in 1520, but the house is recorded to have been built no later than in 1479.
Councillor Ribbing gave the house to a man called Schantz in 1627, and it was he who added the white tiles.

So the white tiles have nothing to do with the massacre, but they make a good story.


   Plenty of troops around as we waited for the changing of the guard.


Here they come – the band leading the new guard. The building is being refurbished hence the white sheets.


A clear view of the heraldic symbol of the three crowns of Sweden.


Because of the crowds we didn’t see any of the changing of the guards.

Our next stop was to see the Vasa, but I will do a separate blog on that event.


A saved piece of history – built in Great Britain and launched in 1888 as the Dunboyne and is now the third oldest surviving iron built ship.


Under sail – Picture found on the internet.

She sailed between Wales and Australia as well as to the US and the west coast of the US.

In 1915 she was sold to a Norwegian outfit and renamed G.D.Kennedy. In 1923 the Swedish navy bought her to be used as a naval training ship. Her final trip was in 1934, after which she was used as a barrack ship during WW2.

In 1947 she was saved from being broken up by the Stockholm city museum and since 1949 has been managed by the Swedish tourist board, and now serves as a youth hostel, having 285 beds. The red brick building to the left of the ship where she is moored today, is the Swedish Admiralty House.


Finally we were taken to a high spot for some great views of the city.


Overall a lovely interesting day, with plenty to see, and a desire to return one day. I first visited Stockholm in 1965, but couldn’t remember much about the visit at that time, except for seeing the Vasa.











Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen


As we entered Copenhagen we were being followed – Sapphire Princess again, and later the Queen Victoria.

DSC02489cCopenhagen is located on the island of Zealand.

According to legend the Swedish King Gylfe allowed the Norse Goddess Gefjun to carve out of Sweden as much land as she could plough in twenty four hours. The Goddess turned her four sons in to four immensely powerful oxen to help her. They ploughed so deeply that they raised the land and were able to tow it across the sea. The land that they ploughed is now known as Zealand. Apparently the lake that was created, Lake Vanern,
by the removal of the Zealand from Sweden is similar to the shape of Zealand . . . . .
The above photograph is the statue of the Goddess with her ‘oxen’ sons carving out Zealand. It is the largest sculpture in Copenhagen and is now used as a wishing well.


Next door to the statue is the Anglican church of St Alban’s, often referred to as the English church.
Due to strong trading links over the years a large British contingent had grown up in Copenhagen. The English would hold religious services in rented halls because they didn’t have a church building. A committee was set up in 1854 to try and raise the money to build a church. In 1864 they appealed to the Prince of Wales, and his Consort the Danish Princess Alexandria took up the challenge to raise funds and find an attractive site. The foundation stone was laid in 1885 and it was consecrated in 1887.

St Alban was the first British Christian martyr, who was beheaded in 304 AD by the Romans. If you wish to read further about St Alban click the link.

Attending the consecration ceremony were the King & Queen of Denmark, Tsar & Tsarina of Russia, King & Queen of Greece, Prince & Princess of Wales, the entire Diplomatic corp, representatives of the Army, Navy, church officials, and representatives of the Greek, Russian, and Roman Catholic churches, even though St Alban’s is a protestant church. After the service many of the dignitaries were invited to lunch aboard Royal Yacht HMY Osborne .


Found this picture of the Osborn on the internet as she is seen leaving the Kiel canal. She was also used to carry the Royal family to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This vessel was launched in 1870 and scrapped in 1908.

Not far from the fountain and St Alban’s church is the most famous of all Danish statues.



The Little Mermaid – commissioned in 1909 by the son of the founder of Carlesberg brewery. The statue was unveiled in 1913.
When I first saw the statue in 1965 she had not long had a new head attached, because vandals had cut her head off the previous year.

The statue is not very big and the background is not a romantic open stretch of water, but a working harbour.

mermaid 01The above is an earlier Mermaid, note the difference in the position of  her head.

A short walk from the Mermaid we came across Copenhagen’s first statue to a black lady.


She is a statue called ‘I am Queen Mary’ – her name was Mary Thomas and she was one of three women who have gone down in history as symbols of the revolt against the colonial powers of Denmark in the Caribbean in 1878.

She was captured and sent to Copenhagen and imprisoned 1.6 km (about a mile) from where her statue is located. The building behind the statue used to house the sugar and rum produced by the slaves.

As a colonial power it is estimated that Denmark shipped about 111,000 slaves from West Africa to work in the cane fields of  St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, in the Caribbean.

In 1917 Denmark sold these islands for USD $25 million to the USA, they are now called the United States Virgin Islands.

The seven meter (23 ft) tall statue is not made of stone or metal, but was created by 3-D computer technology. As I looked at it I could see it move slightly in the wind. Not move to blow over, just the extremities made a slight movement. The lady holds a torch and the cutting knife that was used to cut cane.


Leaving the wharf behind we passed the fountain of Amalienborg near the palaces.


Four main palaces face the square and the one above is where Crown Princess Mary (of Tasmania) lives. They feel comfortable enough to allow their children to go to school, on foot, with very limited security.


Royal guards, outside another of the palaces.


The courtyard in front of the palaces is octagonal – the statue is of King Frederick V can be seen in the photograph.


Another of the palaces – but I can not remember who lives in each, other than Princess Mary’s.


Being used to the guards outside Buckingham Palace in London,I was a little surprised at the casualness of some of the guards in Copenhagen. Not a complaint just an observation.


From the Palace area we visited a merchants house for a cold dink, before walking to the famous Nyhavn waterfront area of Copenhagen. For centuries this area had been a very busy port and only after WW2 when the ships had grown too large to enter the canals did it fall in to disuse. The fact that Hans Christian Anderson used to live in the three of the houses at various times, helped revitalise the area as we know today. Most of the vessels tied alongside were fishing boats, rather than trading vessels.


Once again we would have liked more time to explore this area, but our tour was timed so it was a quick look-see and move on.


Plenty of restaurants and places to buy a drink and watch the world pass by, but we were the ones passing by.


More walking and we came to the parliamentary building or Christiansborg Palace- the work outside is due to a new subway being built.

This is the equivalent of the British Houses of Parliament – the Palace of Westminster.


We saw the outside of this department store – Magasin Du Nord, founded in 1868 and still going strong – a little expensive, but apparently you can get anything. – perhaps the Danish Harrods.

Just a little trivia for those who like shopping – Debenhams of the UK bought Magsin du Nord for £12 million ten years ago, and it is now valued at between £200 to £250 million.

Across the road from the department store we boarded our bus back to the ship.


The tour was over, but from our balcony a touch of yesterday, if you ignore the fact that she is moving without having set any sails.

Overall I think the ship’s tour I took in 1965 was better than our recent tour, I saw much more then than we did this time. I think Maureen was also a little disappointed, which might have been my fault because I talked up the place too highly. I know Wonderful Copenhagen isn’t at fault.








Zeebrugge & Bruges

I was sixteen when I made my first visit ‘abroad’ in 1960, I’d been asked to help a teacher  to look after a group of British school children while visiting Germany. We were to stay at Youth Hostels as we made our way up the Rhine by rail and returned via paddle steamer, Bismark

Paddle steamer Bismark

Due to the very long journey from Birkenhead to Ostend, the group leader had booked us in to the Zeebrugge youth hostel, which was a short distance along the coast from Ostend. The one thing I do remember about Ostend was a particular coffee bar, which had a jukebox.
Jukeboxes were not new to us, but we’d never seen a jukebox linked to a TV screen. For one Belgium franc (well before the EEC and the Euro) we were able to play popular songs and watch the singer on the screen. This is the only memory I have about my first visit to a foreign city.


As we entered Zeebruge harbour aboard Celebrity Silhouette recently, I found myself thinking of the Mersey ferry boats, Daffodil & the Iris in WW1, on St George’s Day 1918.

DSC02305rSunrise  Zeebruge Harbour earlier this year, pictures taken from our balcony.


The entrance to the harbour can be seen (beyond the the immediate quay) where the British sank the two derelict vessels.zeebrugge_19180423

The two ferries took part in the commando raid to sink obsolete ships in the main channel at Zeebrugge, to prevent German U-boats leaving port. Although badly damaged, and with many killed and wounded, the two ferryboats managed to return to England, and eventually made their way back to Mersey.508715828Daffodil arriving back in the Mersey after emergency repairs at Chatham300px-HMS_Iris_II_1918_IWM_Q_55564

Above is the Iris on her return – both ships carried the HMS prefix during the raid., and both had a large number of shell holes. In addition the superstructure had been riddled with machine gun fire. The funnel of the Iris was kept as a ‘memorial’ for some time, but I not sure where it is now.
Eight VCs were awarded after the raid, unfortunately two hundred and twenty seven men were killed, and of those I think seventy are buried in the cemetery at Dover. The whole operation called for volunteers and of the 1700 who volunteered eleven were Australian. Of the eleven, seven were decorated for bravery and some of their medals can be seen in Canberra.

Dover marked the centenary of the raid earlier this year. The link is a very short video.

In honour of their contribution to the raid King George V conferred the pre-fix ‘Royal’ on both Mersey ships, and they became the ‘Royal Iris’ & the ‘Royal Daffodil’. The second descendant of the ‘Royal Iris’ came in to service in 1951, and it was in the 1965, on this ‘Royal Iris’, that I danced with a young girl who would later become my wife, forty nine years ago.

My day dreaming suddenly changes as the Sapphire Princess crossed my sight to berth next door to us.DSC02308r


Belgium navy ships berthed across from our berth. I wonder if they think of the raid on St George’s Day (23rd April).


On to happier thoughts as we crossed the canal bridge leading in to Bruges, after the coach ride from Zeebruge. The drive was just over half an hour and once in Bruges I had the feeling of stepping back in time.


Maureen & I were part of a ship’s tour and the guide, who was seventy, was full of anecdotes, information and jokes – a perfect guide.


Very few cars but enough horse a carriages to keep the tourists happy.


With two cruises ships in port the crowds were not as bad as I expected.


Couldn’t resist taking a photo of the inside of this shop, it looked so colourful and inviting, selling Belgium lace and various other linen products.


Belgium chocolate – the love of chocolate for the Belgium people goes back to 1635, well before Belgium as a country came in to existence. Our guide gave us an overview of why real Belgium chocolate is so expensive compared to to other brands of chocolates. Belgium chocolate is made from 100% coco butter, which means it does not contain vegetable oil.  He went in to a lot of detail, but the bits that stuck in my mind was that if I saw chocolate in Belgium at an inexpensive price, it was not traditional Belgium chocolate. Fortunately for me chocolate is a take it or leave it product – I seldom eat chocolate.

DSC02336rWe were in the old part of the town and making our way to the main market square. The central building with the cross on the top was built in 1713 as a place for destitute women – an alms house in English. It is still used today for the elderly of small means.


The wall of one of the God houses – originally built by wealthy merchants for those who could no longer look after themselves.


We passed another during our walk – built in 1330, and still in use.


Narrow streets and follow the guide – our septuagenarian.


took this because I liked the scene.


Canal scene with a tourist boat.


To get to the main market square we had to cross a very small bridge that had people coming towards us as well as those behind all moving forward.


I stopped on the bridge for a photo and people flowed around me like water.


I then managed to get to the other side of the bridge . .


 . . . and then back to my original place – the tourist boats were very popular, but our choice had been for something other than a tourist boat.


When I saw the crowd outside the hotel I thought what a lovely place to sit and have a drink, only when I got closer did I realise it was a long queue for one of the tourist boats.


The whole area could have been a Disney set, but it was all real.


More queues for boats – on such a beautiful day, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.


The main market square, which is the heart of Bruges, is just around the corner.


The market square reminded us of Ypres, which is not surprising as Ypres is also in Belgium.


Our choice over the boat trip – Belgium beer tasting. Must admit they were generous with the pouring – 150 ml in each glass. Of course Maureen couldn’t dink hers because it wasn’t gluten free, so being kind hearted I helped her out . . .

The first glass was 8% alcohol – and the guy in the red shirt (standing) gave us a chat about the beer and how it was made on the premises.

The next one, a different taste,was 6% and the final one, again a different taste, around 4.5% – a very pleasant lunch break. The brewery supplied cheese nibbles between the tasting of each beer to clean the palate.


Just to show how kind I was. . . . a well balanced meal.


After the tasting we had free time for a wander around the market square. The market started in 958 and is still going every Wednesday.
From November each year it becomes an ice skating rink and a Christmas market.DSC02398r

Plenty of cafes and restaurants.


The statue in the square is of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck , the two heroes from 1302 who were involved in the uprising and massacre of the French occupying forces.
In retaliation the French king, Phillip IV, sent an army of 8000 troops, which included 2500 cavalry.
The civic militia was raised in Bruges, and the surrounding towns. When the two armies met the French sent in their heavy cavalry, but they failed to break the armoured and well trained militia.
The battle ended in a French defeat and many of the knights, including the French leader were killed. At the end of the battle the Flemish soldiers collected five hundred pairs of spurs, which is why the battle is called The Battle of the Golden Spurs. The spurs were offered to the church.


Across the square from the restaurants is the Belfort Tower, which is a belfry.

There are 366 steps to climb to the top, via a narrow staircase (with two-way traffic), so you have to be fit and perhaps younger than me to complete the climb. I’m told that the view on a clear day is fantastic. The lower areas are 13th century.
The carillon of 47 bells weigh from 0.9 kg to 4,989 kilos per bell, making a total weight of all the bells of 27,500 kilos. Chimes of Bruges – is about three minutes and also includes views from the top.

We enjoyed our time in Bruges, and only wished we’d been able to stay longer. It is a town where we’d liked to have stayed locally for a few nights, to see more and to experience the area outside of the town. But we had to get back to the ship . . . .

Next stop Copenhagen.

More history


Hythe located between the New Forest and Southampton waters. A very pleasant short ferry ride to visit the village and experience the world’s oldest pier train – the price of the train is included in the ferry ticket, which was inexpensive.


As you see the weather was very kind to us – AIDAperla (entered service in 2017), the latest addition to the German cruise ship company AIDA, alongside at Southampton.

DSC03889r She is marketed to the German market, but is registered in Italy. Head office is Rostock in Germany. The company is owned by Carnival Corporation of America.


Approaching our destination.


Obliviously yachting seems to be compulsory – everywhere I looked I could see masts.


Step ashore to board the train. You’d have to love exercise if you wish to walk the 700 yards (640 mtrs) to the shore.


Originally there was a hand propelled truck that carried the passenger’s luggage. In 1901 they added a narrow gauge rail line so that the truck would be easier to push, and in 1922 more modern rails were laid and electricity introduced to power a passenger train.



Driver’s cab – I don’t think it has changed since 1922.


We arrived safely on to solid ground.


After all that excitement I need a calming beer – we sat outside at the back, and enjoyed the sun and a bite to eat.


A view of inside the Lord Nelson pub, which has been here since the 1600’s.


It was nice of the town put the flags out, but how did they know we were coming?

DSC03865r This gives one a hint of the local population – on the right note the sign KJ’s Mobility, and all along in front of the shop are electric wheel chairs of various sizes and power.


A peaceful quiet afternoon. We didn’t have to worry about mad drivers, we seldom saw a car.


The excitement of Hythe was such that we had to have a quiet sit down at Ebenezer’s Pub.

The building was  built in 1845 as a chapel and named Ebenezer, which is mentioned in the Book of Samuel as the scene of a battle between the  Israelites and the Philistines. The Israelites lost the first battle and won the second, so Samuel erected a stone in commemoration of the victory. The erection of this type of marker is called an Eben-Ezer.

In 1914 it ceased being a chapel and was opened as a pub, using the same name. The current owners restored it and updated it in 2007 to become a family friendly pub.


Hythe might appear quiet, but it has links to fame.other than being on the border of the New Forest.
Sir Christopher Cockerell, the inventor of the hovercraft lived here until he died in 1999.

T.E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) lived here between 1931 – 32. Not as hot as Arabia.


Memorial in the local park.


What the memorial states.


The park area near the water’s edge – under the trees was very pleasant.


Now we see the reason for such a long pier – the tide is out.


A very pleasant day out, but it is time to go home. The pier train is behind me.

DSC03882rAt the end of the pier, near where we boarded the ferry, it was sad to see the superstructure so weather beaten. But I wonder if I will look as good when I am 137 years old . . . .


Silver Fox very satisfied with our day out.

Cowes East or West?


I’d never heard of the Red Funnel Line until this year. I’d heard of the Blue Funnel Line,which was based on Merseyside.


While in Southampton we wanted to visit the Isle of Wight so as to see Osborne House. Getting there we decided on the car ferry to East Cowes, and the ‘cruise’ would take an hour and at then end of the day the Red Funnel jet boat for the return, which would take about thirty minutes.

The outbound car ferry would dock at East Cowes, which would require us to use the ‘floating’ bridge’ to get to West Cowes for the return journey.


It was a beautiful day as we ‘cruised’ passed various deep sea ships, some along side the tanker berth and others just arriving in to Southampton.


West Cowes as we slowly entered the harbour.


More of West Cowes


As we sailed further in to the harbour I recognise a yacht, which surprised me because I have little interest in yachting. I had to photograph it among the many others boats in the harbour.

DSC02151rc Perhaps it was the wine that I recognised rather than the yacht. She was the Cloudy Bay from New Zealand. A long way from home.


Even as a lover of Australian wines I must say that Cloudy Bay is a lovely drop.


The ‘floating bridge’ that we will use later in the day, the vessel can bee seen crossing the harbour.


An odd looking craft that drags itself across using chains fixed to the shore on either side.


A short bus ride from the harbour of East Cowes and we were looking at Osborne House.

It was built between 1845 to 1851 as a summer home / retreat for Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, and the family.
The Royal couple bought the original Osborne House from Lady Isabella Blachford in 1845 and soon realised that it was too small for their family, so they replaced it with what we now see as Osborne House.


Note the lawns. all dried out due to the lack of rain, much like the bush areas of Australia.

The building in the above photograph is to the right of  the building in the first photograph of Osborne House – they are all part of the same house.


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their family.
The painting is on display inside Osborne House.


Samples of some of the rooms – we did a DIY tour which is very easy to do, and if you have questions there are staff in all of the rooms to help – it was a very interesting tour.


The children’s nursery.


The nursery – all the furniture was created ‘small’ for the children – chairs, tables etc that an adult would find very uncomfortable to use.


I took this shot from the top of the house and I asked why they kept a cannon in the front hall – the lady I spoke to didn’t have any idea. It had been a gift to the Queen. Perhaps as it was aimed at the front door it was just in case the bailiffs arrived.


Queen Victoria’s dressing table in her dressing room.



The hidden bath had inlets in the side for the hot water and of course the normal drain system that we know today.


My Queen in one of the many corridors.



I hope you can read the details about this room – fascinating.


The ‘back garden’ taken from one of the many windows.


The view from the rear of the house towards the sea.

The Australian style landscape is a huge contrast to England’s green and pleasant land, that we would normally expect.


The rear of Osborne House


I took a large number of photographs in and around the house – the above is the rear again.


 A stroll in the hot sun made it feel like home (Australia) – we were on our way to the beach. The walk is about fifteen minutes from the house.


I do like to be beside the seaside.

The above recording was made in 1908  or if you like trains . . .


The British do like their deckchairs.

The above is a quote from Queen Victoria’s letter to Lord Melbourne in 1845. Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister twice, and a close political adviser and friend of Queen Victoria.


Queen Victoria’s bathing machine.She would get in it and it would be pushed in to the water so that nobody could see her swimming. This is the original machine.




How times have changed . . .I wonder if Queen Victoria would have allowed nude bathing on her beach.


Queen Victoria died in Osborne House on the 22nd January 1901, Prince Albert died 14th December 1861 at Windsor Castle.


I found this picture of the Queen’s deathbed on the internet. My own pictures were blurred due to the crush of the crowd.

DSC02252r  A twenty minute walk back to the bus stop in front of Osborne House and we were soon at the harbour waiting for the ‘floating bridge’ to take us over to West Cowes. You can see the chains on both sides of the ‘vessel’ as she hauled herself across the harbour.


West Cowes – nautical shops, old pubs and a pleasant walking area.



Homeward Bound how many sailors have sung this after a beer or three.


The weekend sailors . . .

A beautiful day out that allowed us to view the old Queen’s house and absorb history without realising  that we were doing so . . .

In the footsteps of ghosts



SS Shieldhall, used to be a Clyde ‘sludge boat’. 1972 GT, built in 1954 and now saved as a piece of history and maintained by volunteers.
In 2012 she was repainted in the colours of R.M.S Titanic to mark the centenary of the sinking. She operates over the weekend as a pleasure steamer taking tourists up and down the Solent and she now ‘lives’ at Southampton.

DSC02082rcAs we sailed down the Solent in the Celebrity Silhouette for the start of our cruise to the Baltic, SS Shieldhall was returning to Southampton (top picture), and as the two ship passed each other they used their sirens to signal bon voyage.

1200px-Celebrity_Silhouette_San_JuanWe were a little larger than the ‘sludge boat’ at 122,210 gt

DSC03787r  London Hotel on the junction of Oxford Street and Terminus Terrace, in Southampton.


DSC03808rHad to sample a local ale . . .

DSC03809rAs I drank the face disappeared, thankfully.

The pub was built in 1907 on the same spot as an early building, which is shown on a map dated 1846, and that building was called The Railway Hotel. Across the road is the old railway station, now a casino.

DSC03789rThis building was the Terminus Station, and the families of the survivors off the Titanic waited here for word of their loved ones.

DSC03790rThe hotel on the right was South Western House, and passengers could alight from the train and walk from the platform in to the hotel. It was ‘the’ place to stay while waiting for your trans Atlantic liner.

DSC03794rThe rear area of all our yesterdays. . .

DSC03802rThe front of South Western House today.

DSC03803rNo longer a hotel, because the rooms were converted in to 77 apartments in 1998.

DSC03806rAcross the road from South Western House I found a tailor that I used (only once) in Liverpool during my time at sea. The sign was the only indication that the derelict building had once been famous.

It was in 1907 that the White Star Line moved its trans Atlantic passenger services from Liverpool to Southampton. By 1912 Southampton had become the home of 23 shipping companies.

DSC03792r Union Castle Line

Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, this building used to be the Radley Hotel in the 1840’s when George Radley was the owner. It closed in 1907 and Royal Mail Steam Packet Company bought the building.

DSC03813rBack to Oxford Street and across the road from the London Hotel we found The Grapes. Unfortunately we never did manage a drink in the Grapes.
DSC03813c Over the top of the main door I’ve blown up the picture of the Titanic.

This pub was a favourite drink hole for engine room firemen and coal trimmers because it was one of the closest to the docks. On the day that the Titanic sailed six Titanic crew members left the pub at 11.50 am to join the Titanic as she was sailing at Noon.
As they all entered the dock area a boat train was arriving and two of the six crossed in front of the train, and the other four waited for the train to pass. When the remaining four reached the dock they saw ‘Titanic’ and realised that they had missed the sailing.
Of the four who missed the sailing three were brothers and the fourth was their lodger. The two who crossed the railway lines in front of the train didn’t return.


Further up the road from the Grapes we came across the Sailors Home, built in 1909 for merchant seamen and orphans who would be trained to go to sea.


Note the name of the building – it was politically correct in 1909, well before PC had been invented.

Twenty-seven crew members who sailed in the Titanic gave the address of the Sailors Home as their home. Eighteen died when the Titanic sank.
Reginald Robinson Lee, one of the survivors of the sinking, was the lookout man who first saw the iceberg. Lee died at this home in 1913 from heart failure after having pneumonia and pleurisy – he was forty three.

11464741_112299817041 He survived because he had been ordered to be a rower in one of the lifeboats –
it was lifeboat 13.


James Moody 1887 – 1912

James Paul Moody was the sixth officer, and the only Junior officer to die during the sinking. He helped load lifeboats 9, 12, 13, 14 & 16. The fifth officer, who was with Moody, commented that the lifeboats should have an officer aboard to take control, and as the junior, Moody should go in the boats. Moody differed to the fifth officer that he should go and he (Moody) would follow.
The fifth officer boarded the lifeboat and Moody crossed to the starboard side of the vessel to help with the evacuation until the water came across the deck. He was last seen trying to launch a collapsible lifeboat while standing on the top of the officer’s quarters just before the ship sank. He was twenty four when he died.

James Moody was a Conway cadet (1902- 3) and after his death his family donated a trophy to the Conway, which was called The Moody Cup to be competed for annual in a sailing race.

Moody-CupMoody Cup

The cup is now on display at the Liverpool Maritime Museum. His memory is kept alive today when each year the cup is loaned to the Conway Club Sailing Association where it is awarded for the best sailing log of the year.
During my time on the Conway, we used to race sailing boats on the Menai Straits and it was a great honour to win the cup for your ‘top’. (Top is equivalent to ‘House’ in other schools – I was a member of Maintop.)

There is a link between Reginald Robinson Lee and James Moody. Reginald Lee was the masthead lookout and James Moody was the junior officer of the watch on the bridge when Lee saw the iceberg.

The Sailors Home building is no longer a Sailor’s Home. but a Salvation Army Hostel. In  2007 the inside was gutted to update the hostel. The only remains of the original building is the outside front façade.

The land around the area of Oxford St used to be owned by a rich French Norman,  Gervase Ia Riche.

When he died he left the land to Richard the Lion Heart, who in turn left it to his brother King John.

Edward III gave it to his wife Queen Phillipa to start a new school in Oxford, which became Queens College Oxford. This is why Oxford St, College Street, John Street and Queens Park in Southampton are so named, and the college still owns much of the land.

Queens College Oxford sold the site of the Sailors Home for £1500 in 1907 to build a Sailors Home.


RMS Titanic

If you ever  visit Southampton I recommend a visit to the Titanic Museum , which is well worth seeing. The Titanic section is within the Seacity Museum

R M S TITANIC Celine Dion


Living history

DSC02057rWhere ever we went in Southampton we came a cross history, whether from a few years ago to over a thousand years ago.

DSC02056rHe still guards Bargate, and watches over the peace of the town.

 The town has been in existences from the Stone age, through the Bronze and the Iron age.
It was called Clausentum by the Romans from 43 to 410 AD.
When the Romans left the Anglo Saxons came, and referred to the town as Hamwic or Hamtun, both names referred to the same area. Excavations have revealed a street plan of Hamwic, and further excavation found one of the best collections of Anglo Saxon artefacts in Europe.
In the 11th century the Anglo-Saxon chroniclers referred to the town as South Hamtun.
England was split due to warfare, and the Viking king, Canute, was crowned in this town, (the other part of the country chose Eadmund, who ruled in London). It is thought that it was in Southampton waters that Canute ordered the sea to halt.
His action was to prove to his courtiers that he was not divine, but only human. Over the years he has been portrayed as arrogant to think that he could stop the tide, when in fact he was proving that he wasn’t divine, and that only God had the power to still the waters.

quotebykingcanuteshaftesburyabbeymuseumshaftesburyKing Canute’s name was also spelt as Cnut, but I don’t know where the ‘Knut’ originated. He was crowned King of England in the old St Pauls cathedral, London, in 1017. He was also the King of Denmark and Norway.

DSC02058rA short walk further on from Bargate we came across the Dolphin Hotel where it is said that Jane Austen celebrated her 18th birthday on the 16th December 1793. Later she lived in Southampton from 1808 to 1809. The home in which she lived has gone and on the empty plot a pub was built.

DSC02266rIt looks Tudor and older than it is, I think it was built around 1870.

DSC02265rA view inside the current pub, the flags were for the football competition in Russia.

DSC02063rNot too far from the pub is an old church dedicated to the members of the Merchant Navy. It is called Holyrood church and is known to be in existence during the reign of Henry II in 1160. It was originally built at another location, but in 1320 it was demolished and rebuilt at its present location. It has been a place of worship for the Crusaders, soldiers heading to Agincourt, and Phillip II of Spain in 1554 when he was travelling to Winchester to marry Queen Mary.

After being refurbished in 1851 it could seat 974 people and regularly Sunday services had 462 in the morning and 405 in the evening.

It was during the night of the 30th November 1940 that Southampton was bombed by the German air force. The following morning Holyrood was in ruins.

DSC02064rIt is now a memorial church to Merchant Seamen, because it has always been linked to sailors. Southampton lost 538 of her seaman when the R.M.S Titanic sank. Of approximately 900 crew on the Titanic, 685 were from Southampton.


DSC02065cThe plaque on the wall near the anchor.

DSC02067rcA later memorial.

DSC02062r   On the pavement at the front of the church is this anchor from QE2, she is still afloat and has been converted to being a hotel on the waterfront in Dubai.

DSC02061rDuring the bombing the lectern from Holyrood was rescued as the church burned.

DSC02092cIt is the oldest brass eagle lectern in the country dating back to around 1420. It took two men all their strength to carry the lectern to safety, and is now used in St Michael’s church. The jewels are missing from its eyes, and there is some damage on its wings. During the English civil war it was painted brown to look like wood so that it wouldn’t be melted down.

DSC02089rSt Michael’s church, a block away from Holyrood, St Michael’s is the oldest building still  in use in Southampton.
The church was founded in 1070 AD and still has Sunday services today

DSC02091rThe view inside St Michael’s

DSC02090rI saw this model of the ‘Mayflower‘ in St Michael’s church.

The link is that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Southampton. In 1620 the Mayflower  anchored in Southampton water waiting for her consort Speedwell, which had sailed from Holland with more Puritans.
The two vessels set sail for America in August, but shortly after, the Speedwell sprung a leak and the two ships put in to Dartmouth for repairs.
Repairs completed and they sailed again for the Americas. When they had sailed about 200 miles from Lands End the Speedwell sprung another leak. Both ships returned to Plymouth.
Some of the passengers off the Speedwell moved to the Mayflower and others returned to Holland. On the 6th September the Mayflower sailed for America, later Speedwell was sold.
On the 9th November 1620 they sighted what we now know is Cape Cod. The rest is history.

DSC02081rThis was our destination close to the waterfront.


The brightest part of the day is that this Maritime Museum had changed in to something else. It has become a micro brewery called the Dancing Man.

The Dancing Man brewery began in 2011 and in 2015 they moved in to this building.

DSC02078rRestaurant upstairs – bar downstairs, or outside in the sun.

DSC03831rThey have seven different beers, all brewed on the premises, so I thought I’d have a drop of Jesus’, the taste was another miracle. Jesus turned water in to wine, and the Dancing Man turned water in to beer.

DSC02267rWe were never far from a touch of history. The above shows the original walls of the old town. On the right the modern building is a shopping centre.

DSC02052rEven inside a shopping centre they had created a feeling of yester-year. I took the photograph and behind me were very modern shops.

It was school holidays so what did we used to do – we went to the seaside.

DSC03827rcBeach Rules but where is the beach?

DSC03826rcIs it only the British who sit in deckchairs row after row?

This beach was on the main road in Southampton, miles away from the water and the ships.


Sand had been spread across what I think was a small square in front of the building with the white roof that can be seen. The large deckchair on the left was part of a competition of about eighteen large deckchairs spread throughout the main old town area and one had to track them down and tick them off a list – we didn’t get involved.

The weather was very kind to us during our stay in Southampton – two days, three nights before the cruise and three days three nights after the cruise – well worth the visit as neither of us had visited Southampton before.




Onwards to the Sceptred Isle


DSC03891rPicture taken of the Cross of St George the English flag, above Bargate, Southampton.

DSC02055rBargate – Southampton . . .
but before we reached the Sceptered Isle, we had to leave Singapore
DSC02010rWe walked out of our hotel in to a very quiet terminus at 6.00 am, to check-in for our flight to London.

Emigration & security didn’t open until 6.30 am so we had time to find our check-in counter. Flying business class did not require us to do self check-in and self labeling of our bags, a growing cancer of modern day flying and self checkout at super markets.
Remember me, I used to be called the customer, not the DIY wizard to save you money.
jetstar-self-check-in-1When was the last time that you saw empty self-check-in machines?
Changi-Airport-Kiosks                  Photographs must have been taken during the night – nicely posed.

Whinge over, we’ve been checked in by a real person, and we’ve been invited to the lounge.
DSC02012rA light breakfast perhaps – not too much as to ruin the appetite for brunch on the plane .
DSC02013rThe lounge was not all that far from the boarding area so we had plenty of time for breakfast and to watch the airport traffic.
DSC02018rOne must admit that Singapore airport authority have created a relaxing environment for those travelling in tubes of metal across the world. The above is an advert with a fountain (the white circle), which didn’t come out as planned. More fountains below
DSC02026rAs we sped down the runway the Singapore Airlines planes were everywhere, so is it any wonder that in the near future they will be flying an ultra long range aircraft A350-900ULR none stop to New York. It’ll take nineteen hours, and only carry business and premium economy seats. Our flight from Singapore to London would take us about thirteen hours, which is long enough for me.


All my yesterdays – ships at anchor off Singapore, but I have a feeling that they are not waiting to go alongside or to work cargo from junks, but to die on a beach in India or Bangladesh.


Nothing new – in 1838 HMS Temeraire, immortalised in William Turner’s painting as she was towed to the breakers. Sold by the Admiralty for scrap for £5,530, her copper reclaimed and sold back to the Admiralty, and her timbers sold for housebuilding and hand carved furniture – where there’s muck there’s money.

DSC02037rOn a happier note it was time for brunch.

DSC02038rThe lighting had been dulled a little for those who wished to sleep, hence the coloured reflection. Prawns and scallops, and of course a glass of white wine, it was 5.00 pm somewhere in the world!

DSC02040rMore fish – Maureen was proud of me considering fish is my least favourite food.
DSC02041rI think this was called a Tarrufo Limoncello – what ever it was called it was very nice.
DSC02043rand of course cheese to finish – this meal was a very pleasant way of spending an hour or so . . . .
DSC02046rEngland below – the picture is not as clear as I’d hoped, and as we descended, I was hoping that we would pass near Windsor Castle for a photograph – we didn’t. If we did I didn’t see the castle.

Once through customs and immigration we were met by a driver to take us to Southampton – the traffic was nose to tail most of the way and took us two hours.

We arrived at the Premier Inn, Cumberland Place in time for a quick shower and down for a drink before dinner. The hotel is not a ‘flash’ hotel but new (opened February 2018), clean, with friendly efficient staff. We’d booked in for three nights before joining the cruise ship.


Small bar area, which was part of the dinning room.

DSC02051rDining room.

They served the best ‘Continental’ breakfast that I’ve had in a long time – choice of juices, cereals, fruit, various breads and as much coffee as you could drink. A hot breakfast was about £3.00 extra, but after the ‘Continental’ I couldn’t face bacon & eggs.

Early to bed as our inner clocks where out of wack with the local time . . .






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