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About groovechick

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  1. Thank you Graham. My son can't get involved in the glamping business because that is in Derbyshire, while we live in Hertfordshire, and my son hopes to return to university in late September.
  2. (Abbreviated) cruise story. 19 November-3 December 1994, Sea Princess, captain Colin Campbell, cruise from Jordan to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Greece . We were seated on the Purser's table so info we got was from a reliable source. It was the first time Sea Princess was based in a foreign port (i.e. not returning to Southampton at the end of each cruise), they were trialling it, so having teething problems. Flight out to Aqaba delayed IIRC, so arrived on board very late and had a very early start next morning for our tour. Jordan was uneventful, Petra was stunning. We were supposed to dock at a port for tours to St Catherine's monastery, Sinai, but couldn't because of strong winds and a dust storm which reduced visibility to nearly zero. In the months running up to the holiday there had been a lot of terrorist activity in Egypt, with bombings and shootings of tourists (my mum didn't want me to go). We were docked at Safaga, a mainly industrial port right on the southern tip, so all tours started really early as it was a 3 hour or more drive to get to the main sights. We had to be on the dock at about 5 am to be escorted by the Egyptian Army across the desert, there we were, all sitting on the coaches, waiting 2 hours for the army to to turn up! Escorted across the desert by jeeps with machine guns mounted on them. Our tour to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings was uneventful, but the tour to Cairo the next day was another matter. Our tour guide tried to persuade the whole coach to divert to his cousin's jewellery shop somewhere in the Cairo back streets and it took some very forceful refusals before he got the message, which caused him to sulk and pretty much give up his guiding duties. There was a pre-arranged point for the coaches to meet in a square and form up in convoy for the return journey, but for some reason, once we'd boarded, our driver decided to drive to a patch of waste ground and sit there, where we were sitting duck targets for any terrorists, with our army escort nowhere to be seen! Eventually the other coaches and the jeeps turned up and we set off. Our driver had been seen having an altercation outside a café with one of the other drivers whilst we were sightseeing. Unfortunately they decided to continue this on the drive home, with the other driver racing his coach up behind ours, nearly ramming us, and blinding our driver with his lights. Our driver would then speed to get away, or make erratic swerving manoeuvres. At the time we were driving along a narrow road, with a sheer rock face one side and a steep drop to the valley floor on the other. At one point the coach tilted so we were on one set of wheels only, then rocked back! All this in the pitch black, late at night. We finally got back to the ship, exhausted, and not just from the long day. Our nerves were somewhat shredded! The ship started to run out of water because water we had been due to take on in one of the ports (presumably there was no on-board desalination plant) was not fit for consumption/use, so we had to sail on to another port. As a result drinking and bathing water was restricted and we were encouraged to drink other beverages, with the result that Sea Princess also started to run out of beer, wine etc., because she couldn't restock in the same way as when based in S'oton. She also started to run out of food because they had not received the provisions they expected. Produce such as salad and fruit had been ordered, they were supplied with turnips. As I said, it was the first time Sea Princess was based elsewhere other than Southampton and local suppliers tended to supply what they had, not what was requested. There was nearly a riot when they were down to the last wheel of Stilton (I'm not joking!). The purser was a lovely guy, called Ian I think, who lived in my home area of the Peak District, so we had quite a bit in common. It seems quite ironic that both he and Captain Turnbull live just about as far from the sea as you can get! In Israel we went on a tour to Jerusalem, but were delayed getting there because of major road works on the way from Haifa. Our tour guide thought it would be a good idea to take a short cut through the Muslim quarter, just when all the worshippers were leaving the mosques after Friday midday prayers. There was an absolute stampede of people through the narrow streets and unfortunately they took every opportunity to steal cameras, watches, jewellery, bags, etc. I got badly crushed, which was rather worrying as I was three months pregnant with our daughter and had to be checked over when we got back to the ship, but no harm done apart from some rather nasty bruises (daughter's just had her 25th birthday). It took the shine off the tour though because I was worried and suffering stomach pain, so I couldn't fully enjoy visiting the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Nativity, etc. From Heraklion we were supposed to sail to Piraeus and have a day in Athens but we couldn't get out of the harbour due to strong winds and snow (the ship was smashed into the dock a couple of times), so our cruise was cut short and we were flown home from Heraklion - absoluty no mention of compensation, OBC for future cruises or anything of the kind. I'm sure there are other little bits I've forgotten, but those were the "highlights". We just accepted that it was part and parcel of the holiday and looked on it as an adventure, if not the relaxing holiday we had planned!
  3. Thank you Andy. I do hope Christian (my friend's son) is successful, but there's a lot of competition in that market. I've never tried camping or been keen on the idea, but if it drums up a bit of business for him I'll give it a try. Couldn't be worse than an awful B&B I was accommdated in many years ago, when working in Germany... You like cruise stories? We've got a humdinger about our 2nd ever cruise, it was eventful to put it mildly - ran out of water, nearly ran out of food, desert crashes, punch ups, missed ports...
  4. Thank you Avril. He has had a really rough few years - a high performance swimmer tipped for the top by a former Olympic coach, then diagnosed with a serious heart condition caused by an autonomic nervous system malfunction which has made competing and training really hard and impacted his GCSEs and A levels. This and other issues led to his mental health problems; he made it to uni and the high performance swimming team he'd been accepted on to kicked him out because of his depression. The final straw was finding out his girlfriend of 3 years had been two-timing him for some time. I'm lucky that we have a very close relationship and I've been able to do as much as possible to help him. The counselling is definitely starting to help - he had to drop out of his first year at uni, but he is determined to return in September. It is so good and encouraging to hear of people who have come out the other side. Best wishes to you and your daughter.
  5. Thank you for your good wishes Ann. No, the only info I have is that the business is in Grindleford. My sister and niece live in Wingerworth.
  6. Thank you P&O Sue. Indeed, although in a strange way lockdown has probably been good for him, in that it has kept him away from the people/things which were/are at the root of many of his problems and given him time to learn to cope.
  7. Thank you Pete14. I have asked my friend to let me have the details/link to website. I will DM you if she comes through with them. Mr Kalos will not get a warm welcome - no caravan pitching allowed, plus I think he'd need a turbo boost to make it up and down the hills!
  8. Thank you Kalos and DamianG. He has been trying to get help and support from the NHS for 14 months. He has tried several antidepressants which were ineffective and gave him horrendous side effects. He has already been waiting 12 months for counselling and has been told it will be at least another 6, so we are paying privately, which we can ill afoord, but what can you do when it's your son's health and wellbeing? We are starting to see some improvement, so fingers crossed.
  9. I've just caught up on this thread and can I say what a wonderful lot you are! Thank you for giving me more laughs than I've had in a very long time. It's been a horrendous few months and not just because of the virus (our teenage son is struggling with depression and anxiety and has made 2 serious suicide attempts). We cruise rarely (every couple of years) so I don't post here much, but I love reading the threads. I would very much be up for joining your cruise withdrawal club Andy. Quite agree about the beauty of the UK. We have holidayed in quite a few places and do lots of days out, but there is so much more to see. I don't know if I'm allowed to put this and if not mods please edit, but if anyone fancies glamping in the beautiful Peak District (my home patch), my friend's son lost his job and home in London due to coronavirus and has gone "home" and set up a glamping business with a friend. He's hardworking, enterprising and deserves a bit of luck...
  10. I would choose Azura every time. We were on the Britannia Christmas cruise in her maiden season and whilst we had an amazing cruise, family opinion was divided on the ship - son loved it, husband thought it was ok, me and daughter not so keen. Speaking personally I was underwhelmed by the decor, thought the cabin (we had an inside) was dingy and depressing and the ship generally lacked soul. In her favour her buffet is better laid out and easier to circulate in than Azura's, the adult only area is nice, the in-cabin TV service is better, but I didn't like the positioning of the Glasshouse. I don't think the extra £1500 is worth it.
  11. The unions and government don't work together in Germany, the unions dictate to the government. The unions are very closely allied with the political parties (as in France). Unions like IG Metall make the rules. Germany has indeed had austerity cuts, growth fell significantly in 2019 and social spending/investment has been virtually zero for the last 10 years under Angela Merkel's no new debts policy. The east, always the poor relation, has been hardest hit, with poverty reaching its highest levels in 2019 since reunification, rising work insecurity and earnings inequality.
  12. Not in my experience John, unless it's a cruise with very few children, or few in that particular age group. They do sometimes combine groups for activities, though, especially in the evening.
  13. Don't be put off by Bajamar beach. If you dock where we did it's directly across the harbour, in a fairly industrialised area and with the black sand doesn't look very attractive, but when you get there it's really nice. Quiet, spotlessly clean, friendly locals. Despite being so close to the port the water is brilliantly clean. Basic amenities - small booth selling drinks, showers, toilets. Very few sunshades though and I don't remember loungers.
  14. A handful of large clothes pegs or the purpose-made towel clips to hold your towel onto the sun lounger/rinsed out swimming cossies onto a lounger or chair back to prevent them flapping around or blowing away in the breeze. Matalan often have them coming up to the summer holidays, or TK Maxx. They are also available online. At a pinch you can use big hair clips (the kind with 2 sets of teeth and a spring). Coloured baggage tags or something to help you identify your luggage quickly in the sea of bags at Southampton when you disembark, esoecially if, like ours, your lugge is black Somsinite, so looks identical to everyone else's.
  15. Fellow 'freak' here. We've cruised "en famille" and not taken half of the things mentioned here. I don't want/expect to have every home comfort available when I go away. I can live without a certain type of biscuit for a week or two. I understand everyone's different and if you have the luggage space and want to take whatever it is, then go for it.
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