Baltic Cruise – MV Columbus

During our extended 5-months in UK, we spent many weeks with my dad and toured extensively throughout Scotland and England. However, we had another objective and that was a return to cruising, after a 2-year hiatus. Since we started cruising in the late 90’s, this was our longest gap between cruises.

Based on our experiences on the 2015 World Cruise, we will never cruise with Princess again, so read on to discover how we opted for Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV).

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Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys

The Tower of London houses the Crown Jewels, so one assumes it is a secure facility, with the gates locked at night.

How about an opportunity to assist closing and locking the Tower gates in the evening!! Well you don’t actually assist, but you do get to watch this long standing daily ritual, known as “The Ceremony of the Keys.” Having taken place daily, rain or shine for over 700 years, I believe long standing is an apt description.

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London – Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and Fire of London Monument

On our 2nd day in London, we had tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys, at the Tower, in the evening. Judi opted for a quiet day, while I visited some of the locations around our hotel.

I planned a round trip – Tower Bridge, south embankment, HMS Belfast, London Bridge, the Great Fire of London Monument, then back to the hotel along the north bank of the Thames.

It was a pleasant day, so I enjoyed an excellent walk, visiting some interesting attractions.

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London – Buckingham Palace “Royal Day Out”

In mid-September, our extended 5-month UK trip was coming to a close, as we departed Strathkinness for the final time, bound for London. A one-way trip to London normally has many options – flying, driving or train. However with over 200lbs of baggage, flying wasn’t an option and having driven over 7,000 miles, in the past few months, I didn’t need more practice on the left side of the road. This left the train, so we booked seats on Virgin East Coast from Leuchars to London Kings Cross.

We had 2 days in London, before joining our Baltic Cruise in Tilbury. As usual, both days were packed with sight-seeing, with the first day being a “Royal Day Out” at Buckingham Palace.

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Rangers FC Match Day Hospitality

My grandfather had season tickets at Ibrox, as did my dad for many years, so little wonder, I am a “Died in the Wool” bluenose. I may have spent almost 40 years in Canada, but I still follow Rangers F.C. Although I can’t get to the matches every week, I still keep abreast of news, follow the scores and watch matches on the telly.

So it goes without saying, when in UK, I always try to get tickets for a home match. Just after we arrived in Strathkinness, back in May, we got tickets for the last home game of last season. During our final 2 weeks in Strathkinness, we didn’t have many options, as Rangers only had 1 home match on September 9th. Continue reading

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of performances, comprising the UK Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands, a Tattoo dance company and various artistic performers. It is held during August, rain or shine, at the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade.

On August 26th, we attended the final performance of the 2017 Tattoo, which I consider is Edinburgh’s premier summer performance. With the inaugural show in 1950, the Tattoo has just completed the 68th continuous annual series of performances, with the last 18 years being completely sold out.

I specifically left the camera at home, so that I could enjoy the show live, and not through a camera view finder.

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Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia

Judi and I returned to the St Andrews area at the end of August, spending another 2 weeks with my dad, before heading down to London for our Baltic Cruise.

HMY Britannia, is secured at Ocean Terminal in Leith and is billed as Scotland’s premier attraction. We had already visited Windsor Castle and have tickets for the Royal Day out at Buckingham Palace, so a trip to visit the RY Britannia was high on the list of places to visit.

It is only about 40 miles from St Andrews and with excellent train service to Edinburgh, it is an easy day out.

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Land’s End, Cornwall to St Andrews

Yes, we drove the entire route, but the photo may provide a clue where we stopped for a break. As retirees, we don’t do long drives at home, so why did we complete this one, especially considering it included the M5 & M6?

The previous week, we received sad news of the sudden passing of a good family friend, who we had known since the early 1970’s. We wanted to attend the funeral, so did my dad. However, we had his car, so he would have to catch a bus from St Andrews to Prestwick. At 86, we didn’t want him spending hours on buses.

Solution – cut our 5 days in Cornwall to 1 night and drive back to St. Andrews on Sunday.

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Cornwall & Land’s End

Cornwall is the final stop on our current UK travels. We originally planned a week, but cut it back to 5 days, so we could attend the final show at the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo.

However, the passing of a long time family friend required a change of plans, giving us a single night in Cornwall. Our original detailed 5-day plan was curtailed to include the following objectives:

  • Lizard Pt – UK’s most southerly point
  • Land’s End
  • Cornish Cream Tea
  • Authentic Cornish Pastie
  • Cornish ice cream

After an almost 11 hour day of driving and sight-seeing, we achieved our 5 objectives, then the following day, we drove the 550+ miles back to St. Andrews.

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Devon South Coast Beach Excursion

The forecast, for our last day in Devon, was nothing but sunshine, a perfect day to check out some of the amazing South Devon beaches. In addition, we expected to experience many of the infamous single track lanes, so prevalent in rural Devon.

After a quick breakfast we departed the condo, heading south on the A381 towards Totnes, where we transitioned to more rural roads, heading for the coast.

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