Singe a King’s Beard


We sailed from Southampton the day after we’d arrived with a fresh group of students.
This voyage was to Vigo, again, and later Cadiz, where according to Sir Francis Drake he ‘Singed the King’s Beard’ .


Sir Francis Drake Singed a King’s Beard in 1587.


Drake’s original map, the pink arrow shows how he approached Cadiz harbour.



Spain at the time of our visit was controlled by General Franco, and had been since 1939 after the Spanish civil war, which began in 1936. When he was promoted to the rank of general in 1925, he was the youngest European general since Napoleon. General Franco died in 1975, he was eighty three.

For those who are interested you might like For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s experience during the civil war.


The book was published in 1940, and turned in to a film in 1943, staring Gary Cooper & Ingrid Bergman. Click on the above link for the film’s trailer

On our arrival in Cadiz we didn’t singe anything except ourselves on the beach.


Cadiz in 1965


Maureen & I visited Cadiz in 2015 – a lot more tourists . . .


If Drake had joined us on this cruise he wouldn’t have recognised the fort, because he attacked the city in 1587, and the seven star fort was not built until 1598.


From the beach position.

Next day it was Lisbon, and we arrived at 6.30 pm, which was a great time to arrive, because we were able to see the night life, without having to chaperone any of the passengers.
Eventually some of us found our way to the Texas Bar. A bar that was well known by many who went to sea, and others who liked music.

Texas cropped

In the 1960’s this was the place to visit in Lisbon – how the mighty have fallen.

Tables were scattered around, and a small band played in what looked like the front half of a large rowing or sailing boat. Nothing strange in seeing bands in various gimmicky settings, but the ‘boat’ was half way up the wall, in the far corner of the room.

Texas Bar, Lisbon - Copy

In 1965 this place was jumping with music, and you had to push your way in.


I found the above on the internet – the players in the photograph are, I think, US servicemen, not locals, so they must have been off a visiting war ship. I only saw (listened to) local Portuguese bands, I didn’t know that they allowed visitor bands.

As the evening progressed the place filled and the noise level increased. The band had to play louder and louder.
The band did take requests, via the patron’s passing notes with the title of the music and  accompanied by folding money – of course.

It always happens – the band played the wrong song, and someone took ‘umbrage’ and tried to stand on a table to get at the boat, in which the band was playing. It was then that I saw barbwire wrapped around the side of the boat. Until it was pointed out to me it just looked part of the boat’s decoration to give it authenticity, as in fishing lines. The music critic couldn’t quite reach the boat, so he was saved from receiving some very nasty cuts. The barb wire is not shown in the above photograph

I asked a waiter if this was normal and he told me that they had to introduce the barbwire some weeks earlier to protect the band! So they had ‘elf an safety, even then . . .


A tired memory of more than fifty years later, but I have read that it still opens at 11.00 pm each day, but I don’t know if that is true or not.

We sailed the following evening, the cruise was nearly over – three and a half days and we will be in Tilbury. During the homeward trip we arranged a tug of war between the students and the first-class passengers. The students won and later all the officers attended a show put on by the students.
It was a good show and part of the show was a comic sketch about two cadets – both caricatures of myself and another cadet, because we had the most to do with the students.
It went down very well with the other officers and I even recognised some of my own foibles. Do I really walk like that??

This cruise was a short cruise, and we were soon back in  Tilbury Docks (London), at 08.00 am on a Sunday to disembark our passengers. We sailed ’empty’ at 6.00 pm for the Firth of Forth in Scotland to board a Scottish school cruise for the Baltic.

Sardines and all that . ..


Dom Fernando II e Glória

28Picture from Lisbon web site.

While in Lisbon we had one ‘damp’ day so we decided to experience Tram 28 – the oldest tram in Lisbon.

When we arrived at the tram stop we were faced with a very long queue – many others had the same idea! Not wishing to spend our limited time in Lisbon queuing we decided to take the ferry across the Tagus River, to the small town on the other side called Almada. The ferry ride was only ten minutes.

dsc03119rThe structure in front of the ferry boat is not a submarine, but part of the breakwater on the mainland.

dsc03123rFrom the ferry boat.

We’d heard tales of the restaurants in Almada, so we thought we’d have lunch during our visit.
After leaving the ferry we had to pass an old sailing ship, so of course I dragged my wife and our friends over to check out the ship.


She was an old frigate. The submarine in front of the frigate (right hand side of the picture) had seen better days.


Dom Fernando II e Glória

A fifty gun frigate of the Portuguese navy. Built in 1843 and her maiden voyage was in 1845. She was built in India in Daman, which was part of Portuguese India at the time. She was the last ship to do the Indian to Portugal voyages. The route being created in the 16th century to carry military supplies from Portugal to her Indian colonies. She sailed over 100,000 miles and remained in service until 1878.

After she had finished her deep sea life she was moored at Lisbon and used as the naval artillery school, and later in various other scholastic capacities until 1963, when, during repair work she caught fire.
This brought to mind my old training ship HMS Conway when something similar happened to her off N. Wales in 1953.

conway coloured
After the fire, Dom Fernando II e Glória was towed to a secure area and left on the river bank for the next 29 years.
In 1992 she was removed from the mud flats and work began on her restoration as to what she would have looked like in 1850. In 1998 she was reinstated in to the Portuguese navy.

She was the centre of attention during the World Expo in Lisbon in 1998 during which time Portugal celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco de Gama.

Back to food  . . . .

The restaurants area was a short walk from the ferry terminal, and nearly every building in Almada seemed to house a restaurant of sorts, or at least the buildings,


which were near the ferry terminal, all had restaurants / cafes. The choice was quite large, but we didn’t want Italian, Indian, ‘British’, or any other type of food,  but Portuguese.

I’d heard so much about Portuguese sardine that I’d promised myself that it would be sardines for me at lunch. We walked the main restaurant street checking all the restaurants and ended up back near the water because we’d seen a number of Portuguese siting outside and eating, so we figured if the locals use it then it is good enough for us.


Taken from the restaurant’s web site

dsc03133rThe problem was, not long after we sat down it started to rain!. We were under a large umbrella and the rain didn’t bother us at first until it became quite heavy and everyone (not just us) made a bee line for the restaurant. Downstairs was already packed, so we were waved upstairs.


From their web site


My photograph – we had a window seat – it wasn’t long before the place was full.


The rain was very heavy, but by the time we’d finished our meal it had stopped and dried!


I had my sardines – from memory I had three very large grilled fish that covered half of my plate.


Having only eaten sardines from a tin – the tin with the special key – I was surprised at the size of the ‘daily catch’.              Picture is off the net.

thjh8bo2qqThe taste was fine, but not being a fish lover I hate having to find the meat of the fish amongst the bones. My sardines were whole, with head etc., so I had to open them to get at the meat. Later in our holiday I stayed with salted cod, which was boneless and all fish!

bacalhau-fishIt doesn’t look very appetising , more like slithers of white distressed wood washed up on a beach, until a good chef gets hold of it and turns it in to a great meal.


Boneless fish steak . . .

The above two pictures are off the net.

I was able to tick off sardines, in Portugal, off my ‘bucket list’.


On our arrival in Lisbon I phoned the ‘greeter’ to let her know that we had arrived and that we were queuing for a taxi. As we reached the front of the queue I indicated that we required a large vehicle to accommodate four people and all our luggage. The vehicle assigned to us resulted in a shouting match between the driver and the taxi rank ‘organiser’.
The driver was eventually persuaded to accept us as his fare. To a point, I sympathised with the driver because he was concerned that he couldn’t see out of his rear window, due to our bags. We left the airport and I handed over a printed card with our address. The driver thought that we wanted a hotel, not an apartment, and this threw him in to a right ‘tizz’, because he didn’t have any idea of our destination, which was only ten minutes drive from the airport. I ended up ringing our ‘greeter’ and putting my phone on loudspeaker so that our ‘greeter’ could direct a very unhappy taxi driver to the correct address.

I’d booked the apartment via Flipkey, which uses Trip Advisor as the link. Our ‘greeter’, Filipa, met us and escorted us to apartment number nine on the 17th floor of the apartment block. The apartment was two stories, the bedrooms being upstairs.

The living area was a combined lounge / dining area with the kitchen separate, but still part of the dining area. Outside we had a balcony with a table and chairs. The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. We overlooked part of the city and the Tagus River.
The photograph at the top of this page is of our apartment block, which was built on top of a shopping centre called Vasco de Gama Mall, so we didn’t have far to go to buy our food.

dsc03051rVasco de Gama mall shopping centre below.


As we walked in the front door the stairs are on the right, and on the left, is the door to the Kitchen.


Picture taken from the dining area.

In front of us is the living room and near the window on the left (out of picture) is the dining table.


Living area

diningDining area (picture from agent’s web site)

This time our friends had the en-suit bedroom, and next to our bedroom (see below) was the main bathroom. The blinds were electrically operated and we kept them low for coolness, although we did have air-condition throughout the apartment.


Happy hour was always on the balcony – cool breeze off the water, beautiful views as the sun set – what more could I want?


The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. (Picture from the agent’s web site).


Being seventeen floors high we had some great views.



Cable car along the water front.

Getting about Lisbon was very easy via the underground (metro) system. The route from Oriente station (our local station across the road from our apartment) to the city centre was an education.

dsc03056rOriente Station, five minutes’ walk from the apartment.


The station is very impressive and once inside and we made our way to the platforms we could see the train coming in below us.

Inside Oriente Station as we walked to our platform. It was spotlessly clean.

Many of the stations had a different ‘art’ theme, which we found very interesting –


This was our local station – not a single piece of graffiti or rubbish.


Further down the line the motif reminded me of Greek colonnades.


Something different again later in the short journey to the city centre.

If we ever return to Lisbon I’d do ‘self-catering’ again and use the same apartment, because of the convenience to the metro, shopping for necessities, which can cut in to holiday time, and along the river there are many different restaurants and bars. The river was five minutes’ walk away.

Getting rid of the rubbish and empty bottles was quite noisy, although we never heard the noise of anyone else getting rid of their rubbish and bottles. At the end of the public corridor on each floor was a rubbish shoot – one for rubbish and one for cans and bottles. The rubbish wasn’t a problem, but once we let go of a bag full of glass bottles the noise, as the bag or single bottle bounced down seventeen floors, was tremendous, and we quickly closed the outer door in an effort hide the noise.
Nobody ever complained, and as I said earlier we never heard anyone else’s rubbish ‘noises’ so why would they hear ours.
When it was my turn to do the dropping I used to time the beer bottles against the wine bottles . . . .Newton’s Law. My watch wasn’t accurate enough to note the difference.

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