Monday, May 31, 2010

Normal Service Will Be Resumed........

Wow that phrase takes me back. In the early days of British television (well in our house anyway), the already flickering picture would often go a bit wonky and then go altogether. If the boffins (early geeks) at the BBC were on the ball, you'd get a little message like the one above, apologising for the lack of Bill & Ben or Jackanory and then you'd get a bit of music for a while and then when someone found a shilling for the meter, the picture would return.

Hurrah for technology.

Of course back then, tv would end at 10pm as there was nothing more to broadcast. There was no more news anywhere around The Empire, and the cricket had ended hours ago so that was the sport done with. So a young black and white Queen Liz would come on and sing the National Anthem which usually made her giggle at the start when she blessed herself. Then a man would remind us to turn off our tv sets so that Telstar could recharge it's batteries up in orbit overhead.

I know, it's all rubbish but hey, I've not blogged for ages so I'm just full of it.

Just over 2 weeks ago my sickly laptop give up the ghost and needed emergency surgery. This involved backing up as much as possible, replacing the hard drive and reloading Vista, lots of Sony drivers and finally as much of the backed up data as possible. Yesterday Daphne's wonderful hubby, Stephen, finished the job and lappy was handed back me as good as new. Better even as a lot of pre-installed rubbish wasn't. Installed that is. And I've got Vista Ultimate which is Vista with go faster stripes.

So for the rest of yesterday I again downloaded and installed all the free software that makes my life on the internet so much better....Skype, Trillian, utorrent, Digiguide (ok not free but I was already a subscriber) and so on. Then I set everything up as I wanted it, including my email alert wav. I've picked Mail6.wav although for some reason it chops off the end on this site.

So basically I'M BACK......although I'm off again right away as I'm heading to deepest, darkest S. Wales in the morning for a wee 3 day trip to Swansea and places nearby. While I was lappyless, I joined the 21st century and by agreeing to hand over the bulk of my pension every month for the next 2 years, I signed a contract for a new phone. A smartphone no less. Smarter than me as I haven't worked out how to make a bloody phone call yet ! There is no button B and I still can't find an application to send telegrams so it's not THAT smart. Anyway I can now be in touch ''on the road'' so expect lots of Facebook photos and Tweets with annoying regularity from now on.

You have been warned.

Prynhawn da !

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Brief Passage Of Time

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then this will save me a shitload of typing. Which has to be good for you as well as me !!

Be warned - there is a short, but quite loud advert at the start and then no sound until close to the end so I'd recommend you lower your volume slightly before continuing.

And now, enjoy the magic.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eee By Gum, I'm Still On T'internet

My laptop is not well. In fact it may have a terminal condition.

Little geek joke there.

I don't think it liked being put to sleep just before my flight back to the UK a few weeks ago but I was so excited to have a free wi-fi connection at Orlando airport that I kept using it until my row of seats was called for boarding. With no time to do a proper shut down, I just shut the lid and that dropped it into sleep mode for the rest of the trip home.

It was a particularly rough flight as we took off into a severe thunderstorm but although I doubt that had any effect on it, the laptop was never the same once I got it home. I was able to back up my photos and videos and other important stuff but finally a few days ago, it wouldn't even power up into Windows.

Yesterday I took it to Stephen, Daphne's hubby, who is a bit of a wiz with computers and all things with a plug and he has already managed to backup the entire hard drive using a disc based version of Ubuntu as the operating system and so if he can get no further, I'm happy for him to try and do a 'restore to factory settings' recovery.

So until then, or until I have to buy a new laptop, I'm very grateful to have the loan of this Asus Eee from Daphne to help me have at least a small window into the internet. A small window is never as good as a Vista, but it's better than having no view at all.

Another little geek joke there.

For those who have never seen an Eee, I've added a biro to the photo for scale but when you realise that the closed unit is as wide as my outstretched hand, then you'll see why it's not an easy task to write a blog there may not be many for the next few days.

So with a huge thanks to both Stephen and Daphne, I'll leave the story here. I dare not put this Eee down in case I can't find it again and it's just so damn cute that I may find it hard to give back.

Daphne, you have been warned.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Football : It's A Funny Old Game

It's a sunny May day and in the world of British football, it's FA Cup Finals in Scotland that only viewers of Sky Sports 1 know about and the important one in England, being contested right now by Chelsea and Portsmouth.

So an all 'southern' Cup Final then and that's just not right. Most footy fans would want a good old North/South game as there is always a bit of needle in such contests even before the ball is kicked in anger.

Back when I were a lad and football was played in black and white, at least on our telle, the build up to the FA Cup Final started at about 11am. Thankfully, despite the game now being played for the benefit of the tv companies and their advertisers, it tends to start at a more reasonable 1pm, two hours before kickoff.

But it's a sad sign of the times when the build up is not so much about the games played by the players ON the pitch but by the games played by a few of them OFF the pitch. The term WAG (Wives And Girlfriends) came about several years ago when cable television took off and the amount of money that was paid to televise live games went from a few £million to a few £billion and almost overnight, footballers became celebrities based on their income and subsequent socialising more than their ability, although the two sometimes went together.

Back then, those who played on the field earned the money that was spent, often very publicly, by their partners who enjoyed playing off the pitch, by shopping, partying and generally appearing in any glossy magazine with a photographer on its books and every tabloid that didn't.

With their lives in the spotlight more than ever, it was only a matter of time before sordid stories of marital infidelity came out and as is the way these days, such stories generate more interest than the goings on during a game. The best one was when a high profile married player, captain of Chelsea and England, was found to be having a bit of extra practice with the girlfriend of another player, a player who had been his team mate a few months earlier. This particular soap opera was enriched by follow up stories of the girlfriend getting pregnant, having an abortion and lover boy trying to seek an injunction to have it all hushed up.

And we thought the football bad boys had all 'died out' in the 70's. It would be tempting to think that we have a different type of bad boy now, but I'm sure it's been going on for decades. It's only since becoming instant celebrities with their £170,000 a week salaries that their every move, on and off the pitch, is scrutinised, often in super slow motion !

Back in those black and white days, players didn't earn much more than the fans on the terraces who supported them. They kicked a heavy leather ball around a pitch that often resembled a muddy field and went home to fish and chips on a good day. Now they kick a ball that is so light that it moves several times in the air and play on pitches that resemble a deep pile living room carpet. After a game they dine out at fancy restaurants and settle a bill that would be the monthly salary for a stockbroker.

Their lives are as far removed from the fans on the terraces as those of Hollywood movie stars and I wonder if their private lives are heading that way too. If today's pre match build up on telle was to include such affairs, literally, then I think we'd be back to the show starting at 11am, on Friday !

But it's still our national game and has never been more popular. Thanks to safety regulations and many more games being televised live, we'll never see actual attendances like those in the early days but it doesn't matter anymore. The money raised by ticket sales are a drop in the ocean compared to television rights, advertising and other commercial ventures. It also helps if the club owner is as rich as Croesus of course.

Last year Manchester United sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in a deal worth £80m, the current world record for a football transfer. Were Real Madrid mad ? Many thought so at the time.

Ronaldo has played 34 games since then for Real Madrid and although he has scored 33 goals, the even more staggering statistic is that in this first season, Real have already recouped the transfer fee in Ronaldo shirt sales alone ! Who is mad now ?

So as long as football itself is supported like this by the fans, it will continue to flourish. A match day ticket for a high level Premiership game may be out of the reach of most working fans but television coverage will continue to bring it to them in their armchairs and down at the local pub, as it will with games from the FIFA World Cup which starts in just under 4 weeks time in South Africa.

I can't wait.

The FA Cup Final has just finished with the victory going to Chelsea, who only managed to score once.

Unlike their captain.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Dunkerque Spirit

The Italian Bunch (Daphne, Stephen and myself) had so much fun touring parts of Northern Italy together last summer that we planned on 'doing' Ireland this summer. I was excited to show my friends around my home country, N. Ireland, but it struck me last night that I just wasn't getting a 'buzz' about touring the South.

I looked at other options and felt I wanted to go the other way and cross over to The Continent again as I've never visited 99% of it. I've been to parts of France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Holland and, of course Italy, but that only amounts to the remaining 1%.

I talked it over with Daphne and she was enthusiastic about the change of plans as she really only wanted to see N. Ireland too and we can all possibly go there on a long weekend sometime, probably not this year though.

So where do we go ? Right now we've no idea !

I've looked at channel ferry crossings in early August and we'll most likely take the Dover to Dunkerque route but then where ? Well it's less than an hours drive to the beautiful Belgian town of Bruges (Brugge), with a centre that is a World Heritage Site and I've always wanted to go there. That's a good start.

Less than 3hrs drive north from Bruges and you are in Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands and the home town of Daphne's brother, Michael, and his family. If that's not a good enough reason for a visit, then I want to see its famous canals and even its numerous cannabis coffee houses so that I can say I left Amsterdam on a high !

After that, I think we're open to any suggestions and will most likely head due south to spend the bulk of the trip (2 weeks +) touring around the (hopefully) beautiful French countryside as if it's one feature of the Italian trip that we loved more than anything else, it was the stunning Tuscan countryside. I'm sure France can deliver too.

So as I know I get occasional readers from France and also readers who have toured France, I'd be really pleased to receive any advice about places to visit and also about scenic drives. Of course I can put my surfing skills to good use over the next couple of months as once the ferry crossings have been booked, there is nothing else to do but create a touring route.

I'm happy to report that the 'buzz' has returned.

Monday, May 10, 2010

All Quiet On The Western Front

I'm not really an 'on this day in history' sort of guy as I like to live in 'the now' and after all, what's been, has been. And also que sera, sera, if you believe Doris Day.

But many historical events are well worth remembering ( mainly so they have enough questions to create a decent history exam at school ) and one today struck me with a bit more force than usual - maybe because I'd been hearing a lot in the run up to our General Election last Thursday about making use of our right to vote.

As it was going to be a close election, everyone seemed to be telling us to use our vote. We were constantly reminded that people struggled for years to get us the vote and in the case of voting for women, that right cost lives as well. So perhaps the whole notion of what we owe previous generations was more in my mind today than usual.

Anyway the point of all this setup waffle is that on May 10th 1941, the most devastating bombing raid of 'The Blitz' took place in London and to pull this together with the General Election, it's worth noting that the chamber of the House of Commons was destroyed. Looking at all the historic buildings in London now, it's hard to imagine any of them having survived the blitz which lasted 8 months. London was bombed for 76 consecutive nights. Can you imagine that ?

On this day back in 1941, in a raid involving 550 German bombers, over 700 tons of bombs and thousands of incendiaries were dropped on our capital city, killing about 1500 people and seriously injuring 1800. Londoners didn't know it at the time, but this was effectively the last such bombing raid and has become the official end date for the blitz. Of course a new blitz took place in 1944 when the Germans developed flying bombs (V1/V2) which caused even more terror than old fashioned bombs and killed almost 9,000 people.

Many other towns and cities in the UK were targeted too, including Leeds, although these may have been stray bombs meant for Hull (60 miles away) as Hull was the most bombed city after London. This explains why it still looks like a bomb site today ! Sorry Hull.

And here's another little interesting fact; Oxford was never bombed as Hitler wanted it as his capital city. Say what you like about him, the man had style !

Old as I am, I was born several years after the end of WWII and so I just can't imagine living through 8 months of almost constant bombing. Hell I get spooked when a firework goes off or someone pops a crisp/chip bag. Sadly, many communities around the world still have to suffer such awful events to some extent although these days, most bombs do not start their journey on board a plane but are carried inside an SUV.

So there we have it. On this day in history : the end of the blitz.

Diary Entries:

May 10th 1941. More bombs than usual. Had tea and scones in the shelter.

May 11th. 1941. Bit quiet today.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's a Fair Cop

I lay in bed this morning thinking about Dixon of Dock Green. Slightly more worrying than thinking about kitchen utensils but let me explain.

I was really thinking about cop shows and movies and if they reflect the times or is it the other way round. I know. I really need to get out of bed once I've woken up !

My memories of most things only go back to a week last Wednesday but for some reason, I do vividly remember watching Dixon Of Dock Green when I "were a lad". I was only 3 when the series started in 1955 but even so, even at that tender age, I did think Jack Warner's character did reflect the times. He was like everyone's favourite uncle and I'm sure he wore a lovely knitted cardy under his uniform. When he politely asked a villain to stop, he'd stop and the most violence we saw was when Jack or one of his colleagues put their hand on someone's shoulder and said "you're nicked, my lad."

There were no high powered car chases (not quite the same using bicycles) and certainly no gun shooting like in just about every cop show these days. Having said that, Jack's Dixon character first appeared in a movie, "The Blue Lamp" in 1950 when stunned audiences watched as he investigated a cinema robbery and was shot and killed by a very young Dirk Bogarde. It was just so shocking for a policeman to be shot at in England at that time. It still is, to be honest.

So fresh from his death, Dixon starred in his long running series and set the standard for cop shows on this side of the pond for the next 21 years. Policemen were respected. They were trusted. And yes, they wore funny helmets. Still do.

Over the decades, the times they were a changing and although UK police shows changed and became a bit more gritty and violent, they still were very tame compared to their US counterparts. Just think of Juliet Bravo, The Bill, Z Cars and even The Sweeney in the mid 70's and none were likely to raise questions about their uber violence. I suppose Heartbeat was borderline at times (!!) but the sweet sounds of the 60's used as the musical background still took us back to Dixon and his gentler policing methods.

We don't have the tv income to splash out on flashy special effects or be able to write off loads of cars in spectacular chases so we concentrate on the plots and with the influx of US cop shows, we can be said to have the best of both worlds.

Once upon a time, America gave us Kojak and we gave them Z Cars. They gave us Miami Vice, we gave them Dempsey & Makepeace. They gave us TJ Hooker and we gave them The Thin Blue Line.

Never mind better plots, I think over the years we've had the better of the deals !

G'night all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Teeth ? Who'd Have 'Em ?

I've just returned from an appointment with the dental hygienist and, as usual, I'm not sure why I pay a fortune to have someone inflict pain on me. I know the 'poor' girl doesn't mean to inflict pain but when you're poking and scraping teeth, you'll always inflict pain, unless you're a coroner !

It was supposed to be a double appointment as, after being abused by the hygienist, I was due to be carried kicking and screaming into the dentist's chair in a nearby office for even more poking and prodding. And maybe drilling. And certainly more criticism.

Yes it's bad enough that all this pain gets inflicted on me but then these professionals see a need to tell me it's all my fault and if I looked after my teeth better, they'd not have to hurt me !

It's like a kick in the teeth !!

Ok I'll admit I don't floss and I rarely use those little pokey things you shove between your teeth as, lets face it, they take time and effort and I just wanna brush my teeth and get out of the bathroom. So maybe they have a right to criticise my dental hygiene as, apparently, a healthy mouth helps maintain a healthy heart. This isn't a theory I entirely support but having had 2 heart attacks, I Guess I should be willing to try anything to prevent a 3rd.

Part of my problem is I quite like plaque. I mean when my teeth are all cleaned and scraped and there are nice gaps between them, that's when the food bits take up the slack. For weeks after an appointment, I have to pick enough meat from between my teeth each night to feed a small African village. Then eventually plaque fills the gaps and room for food ! I think plaque is nature's food barrier and as such, serves a function.

I doubt that any long term study would prove my theory to be anything other than wishful thinking so I'l just have to go with the flow on this.

Anyway I got a letter on Tuesday telling me my dentist, due to unforeseen circumstances, couldn't make the appt and could I make another appt with her after my visit with the hygienist today ? Well as I really wanted both 'pain visits' out of the way one after the other, I went yesterday to try and book an appt with both again. When the receptionist started muttering about mid July, I said forget it and I'd stick with the hygienist appt today and that way she got me in with the dentist in 2 weeks time.

Never thought of hygienists as being so popular !

So a nanosecond after she poked my first tooth and caused me to put a death grip on the chair arm, she said "oh I'm sorry but your gums are very sensitive there and I'll be more gentle." MORE GENTLE ? Shouldn't that be the standard from the get go ? What's that old expression for medical people..."first cause no pain" ?? Maybe it's "first do no harm" but I prefer my version.

Then while I'm trying to do complex math in my head to help block out the pain, she starts asking about my time in America. Obviously hygienists get trained like dentists and have this bizarre notion that having the patient talking will help deaden the pain. NO IT DOESN'T !!

You end up trying to mumble answers with a VERY sharp metal bit spinning at about 20,000rpm on the back of your teeth. One false move and you could be skewered like a display butterfly. Leave me alone and let me work on my times tables.

At one point, when I was allowed to sit up and gargle, I asked her what it was like to be feared, if not worse, by everyone who came to see her ? On reflection that probably wasn't the best time to ask and I sensed I'd touched a nerve (payback's a bitch) when she roughly pushed me back onto the chair, straddled me and roared like a demented maniac as she approached my mouth with a needle sharp dental scraper.

No she didn't ! But I did ask the question and to be fair to the girl, she laughed and said it was an occupational hazard.

Finally it was time for her to say "I'll just give them a quick clean" as that signals the end to the pain. I still just wanted out of there in case she changed her mind so when she opened up her drawer of consumer products and recommended some new long handled pokey thing, she'd already lost me as a potential customer.

I said I'd think about it and was out of there faster than Will Smith at a KKK rally.

So that's it for another 6 months. I've told myself to up my dental hygiene program and as I said earlier, this wouldn't take much. I'll try this flossing malarky although I just know I'll never manage it as I've a small mouth and big fingers (stop laughing) and I'll use the pokey things, at least until I use up my supply. Then I'll just swap to a fork. Can do several at once then.

I've just had a beef curry and I can enjoy a lot of the beef again all afternoon as I now have a nice supply handily tucked in between most of my teeth.

I miss my plaque ! Nature's grout.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Kitchen Marvels.

Like Sir Walter Raleigh before me, I recently returned from 'the New World' bearing gifts. Yes, yes I know HE didn't actually bring back potatoes or tobacco but I'm sure he brought his Queen a couple of postcards and a t-shirt so go with me on this.

A couple of these gifts were mine (I don't make the rules) and they'd been given to me by Debby/Den at Christmas but not used until I got home. Both are kitchen products and one, the scrubby, I've used many times before but love having my own here and the other.......well I'll start with that one.

First a question. Why are oven mitts, mitts ? I mean seriously. Why have a large mitt as your protection for handling hot food items and containers ? I know they're ok for just removing a pan from the oven but hardly practical for more precise picking out one roast potato for a trial nibble !

And so, with a suitable drum roll please, I introduce the oven glove. Brilliant. Must've taken a lot of thought to design a mitt with fingers. At least we can now stir the gravy in the scalding hot roasting dish without feeling like the elephant man brushing his hair.

But this is no simple insulated oven glove. Oh dear me no. This is........the 'Ove' Glove

I bet the PR men had a great time around the table naming this little beauty. They probably couldn't copyright the name "oven glove" and so the "Ove" Glove came into existence.

I don't care. I just know I love it. I love it so much I want to wear it outside. It would be a sort of Gordon Ramsay meets Michael Jackson sort of deal. As well as making a fashion statement, I'd be able to drag small children out of burning buildings. And yes, it's THAT good.

Why ? Well because it's 86% Nomex, which isn't a word used by immigration authorities along the Texas border but a flame resistant material developed by DuPont in the 60's and long used by fire fighters the world over. But there's more !

The other 14% isn't just some pathetic old cotton or nylon. Hell no. It's Kevlar.

KEVLAR ??? Yes the stuff used to make body armour !

So now when I'm out and about wearing my 'Ove' glove and I happen to come across an armed bank robbery, I can walk into the building without fear as with my gloved hand to protect me, I can stop a speeding bullet like that dude who always wore his underpants on the outside. Weird guy.

What bloody useful gloves and I think they should be provided to every household for free.

And look, it can even be used on either hand !! God, they've thought of everything. I even like the heightened strips which as well as giving extra grip to stop those slippery bullets or get a hot sausage out of the frying pan, are in my favourite

Actually come to think of it, the expression "out of the frying pan and into the fire" was made for this glove !

The second kitchen gift I brought back was handmade by a friend in sunny Buttonwood Bay and something I've used and loved for a few years. Not this particular one of course as it's brand new. I don't know if the name, the scrubby, was thought up by her or if she's just copied the idea from someone else but that's irrelevant.

It's simply a length of material knitted into a sort of ball that you use for scrubbing pots and pans and anything that has bits of baked on food on the surface. It's a scourer but one that doesn't scratch as the material is JUST harsh enough to remove food bits but not harsh enough to even put a mark on the most delicate of surfaces.

I'm sure there are products on the market like it but for me, nothing beats this handmade "scrubby" and it's become my dish cleaning aid of choice.

The reason for the fork in the photo above ? Just for scale.

Anyway I'm off to have shower and I may well wear my 'Ove' Glove as I like the water pretty hot and the soap does get very slippery. And remember, it's good for gripping things !!

But I'll forgo using the scrubby as, with my delicate skin that is mostly free from baked on food bits, I still prefer my sponge.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Caribbean Cruise - Day 4

And what happened to Day 3 you may ask ?

Well it was the first of 2 days at sea so there isn't much to report. We got up, we ate, we rested, we ate, we read, we ate, we swam, we ate and then we went to the theatre to see Motor City - A Tribute to The Music of Motown And The Stars Who Created It.

And that was Day 3 !

So at 10am on Day 4, the Emerald Princess docked at St. Maarten, a small island divided roughly 60/40 between France and the Netherlands Antilles with the 60 bit being French, so of course we didn't go there ! The overall population is approx 75,000 but as with most Caribbean cruises, we saw few of them.

After a hearty breakfast, we went up on desk to have a look at the harbour area even though both of us had been to the island before. Yet again we were one of several cruise ships docked close to the main town of Philipsburg and Debby was amused to see that the ship in front of us was the Carnival Dream, the ship she had been on in January. It's a small world after all......oh sorry.

Now you'll have that damn tune in your head for the rest of the day.

There were two other cruise ships to our left and this meant we had to walk along a 'tunnel of cruise ships' to get to the harbour exit.

It's not easy to see from the photo above but there are two ships on the left and just beyond our radar domes on the right side, is the back of the Carnival Dream. Those two ships on the left were long enough and tall enough to block anything to their left so when we eventually got to the end of the pier, it was quite a shock to see another cruise ship docked over there.

And not just any ship. It was the Oasis Of The Seas, at 1,181ft long and 236ft above the water line, the largest cruise ship in the world. On it's way from the shipyard in Finland to America last year, it had to pass under a bridge with a clearance of only 213ft. Something had to give and it wasn't going to be the bridge. The ship has retractable telescoping funnels and so it cleared the bridge but with only 2ft to spare. Glad I wasn't 'driving' it.

Even up against the other 4 mammoth cruise ships, the Oasis of the Seas was a sight to behold.

Fully loaded, it can take 6,296 passengers and 2,165 crew so it really is a floating town at sea. Majestic but nevertheless quite ugly in my opinion.

Once outside the security area, there was the typical manicured cruise village where we saw all the usual shops selling the same jewelry and tourist type clothing that you'll find at just about every harbour location in the Caribbean.

We avoided those shops and headed for the taxi rank as we planned on going across to the west of the island to Princess Juliana International Airport and its famous runway that starts/ends only a few feet from a public beach.

The drive there took about 30 minutes and although we did see something of the area, we could've been on any island in the Caribbean.

As we approached the narrow road that runs between the beach and the runway, a large plane had taxied to the end, turned and was ready for takeoff. Our driver stopped as it's too dangerous to drive any further on these occasions and we settled in to watch 'the show'. Suddenly the noise level increased dramatically and just as the jet slowly moved forward on full power, we glanced at the narrow beach and those foolhardy souls who were deliberately standing within range, were literally blown off their feet and most ended up in the water.

Hence the sign........

Once the plane was out of range, our taxi crossed over and dropped us off at the east end of the beach where there was a bar that was probably only there due to the tourists like us who came to experience the landings and takeoffs at the airport. We strolled onto the beach to await the first landing.

Several small planes landed in quick succession but none were worthy of note. Small planes need less runway so there was no need for them to land right at the start of the runway and so no need for them to fly low over the beach.

I'd checked landing times before we started on the cruise (although I later learned there is an upright surfboard somewhere along the beach that gives these times too) and I knew there was a large Air France plane coming in from Paris at 1:30pm and so we only had 30 minutes to wait.

Everyone else knew this too and as the time approached, keen eyes scanned the horizon. A young lad near us saw it first and as the seconds passed, the dot became a plane and I got ready with my camera. I passed my little Nikon to Debby so she could get video footage and I prepared for still shots. I started shooting when the plane was still over the water and I was standing facing it but I hadn't thought about the potential for disaster when swivelling round in the sand to track it to the runway.

I stumbled slightly and although I kept shooting, there was always only going to be one frame when the plane was closest to me and closest to the beach - and I messed it up by chopping off its tail. I was pissed.

(That's a proper technical term used by photographers to explain how they feel when they screw up)

It was a bit of an overcast day, so once the show was over, we decided to head back to the ship. Again it was hard to avoid taking photos of those huge cruise ships so here are a couple more.

Back on board, we had something to eat and a rest before going up on deck around sunset to watch our departure from St. Maarten. We were the first of the 4 closely docked cruise ships to leave and as we reversed out (!!), I hoped the Oasis would still be there, but it had left before us and was only visible as a dot on the horizon.

We stayed up on deck for a lovely sunset........

.....and then after dinner, we went to the theatre to see another set by the excellent 'relationship' comedian, Kevin Hughes.

Going across to the airport to see the planes taking off and landing was a selfish dream on my part and I want to thank Debby for going with me so I could get it out of my system !

Here is the unedited video clip she took and yes, unlike me, she managed to get all of the plane in the frame. I have been suitably humbled.

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