More adventures to come in 2011

Well being back home from the extended cruise…on to St.Helena and thence Rio meant less time to prepare for Christmas, but we survived and had a very pleasant few days with daughter Nikki and son-in-law Ed….but now it is nose to the grindstone to get ready for the next trip(s). I am booked to fly, with Julie,  to Manaus in Brazil, via Sao Paulo, on the 27th Jan to join the Saga Pearl II for a cruise down the Amazon and up to Barbados. Then with a few days spread between Barbados and Miami, we join the Oceania Nautica for 4 weeks to do back-to-back cruises around the Caribbean – the first doing the land ports, the second takes in more islands….and on the 20th February – my 60th – we will be in Guatemala!! Should be memorable. But that all entails the preparation of a few lectures, so it is more computer work over the New Year…..but before the cruises…..more adventure!

Andrew Murray, the Doctor on the Al-Andalus Ultra Trail race that we help with here in Spain during July is running from Scotland to Morocco….some 2,600 miles – and with no-one chasing him! And I am going over to Morocco on the 15th Jan, with Toby from Surrey, to help with the driving of the campervan and general support duties (telling jokes, singing a few songs, opening a few bottles of wine etc) to help him along the way. We are not sure on all the arrangements – sleeping, eating etc, but it sounds like a good wheeze! And we get to watch Andy doing all the running….try looking on ….there will be more news later…..and it could be quite interesting…..

Further cruises planned include – Miami to San Francisco (via Panama Canal in April), and then Rome to Greenwich in May/June, and then the big one from November through to 2012…from Athens to Dubai to Cape Town and then Singapore……..

What do you do at sea?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times! The simple answer is that like a Troubadour of old, I tell stories, and sometimes sing some songs. I do not tell the passengers about the places they going to visit, as there are people already employed to do just that – and if they take a trip ashore then the local guides earn their crust by doing the same thing….so I tell stories about the areas we pass by, the countries we visit and the people that may have lived, or indeed did live there and what they did. So as we leave Venice on Sunday night, assuming I am programmed to give a ‘talk’, or ‘lecture’ as the Americans like to call it, I will be telling the story of Julius Caesar, his life and death and what he did for the Roman Empire – with a little help from William Shakespeare!! As we sail around the Eastern Med I will be recounting the tales of the Greek Heroes, Alexander the Great and the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World…..finishing with the sad tale of the abortive invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli in the First World War…. – not a lot of laughs in that one! Across the Med I will talk about Napoleon in Malta and Egypt, Hannibal and Carthage, The re-conquest of Andalucia by the Catholic Kings and their sponsorship of  Chris Columbus, and the Battle of Trafalgar as seen through the eyes of one who was there – with a lot of songs. and on down the west coast of Africa with stories about Slavery, the Boer War, the Zulus, Napoleon in St. Helena and the First World War in Africa…..and then maybe a few cabaret shows thrown in to keep me busy! So maybe that answers the questions about what I do on these cruise liners! Well someone has to do it!!

Off to Sea!

The suitcase lies open on the floor waiting to be filled and the guitar is polished and ready to go. So it’s off to sea once more, first to Venice and then on to Istanbul and Tenerife and finally Cape Town in early December. The 19 or so lectures are primed in the net book and the notes are filed. I have dates, names and tunes whirling in my head as I await the timetable of my ‘duties’. It is always good to go, but also difficult to leave this beautiful place called home here in Andalucia. Yesterday, with a good friend I was in the mountains on the trails and footpaths where we gasped and stumbled up the slopes to take in the clear air and mind-blowing scenery of the Sierra de Tejeda and the Maroma peak, in glorious autumnal sunshine. The tired legs and bruised feet are a small price to pay for the inner satisfaction of being able to view such sights and still be able to make the climbs…..and then descend to the village carrying the vision of the large glass of ‘amber nectar’ waiting in Miguels bar! Another walk in the hills tonmorrow and then it must be some serious packing of that open suitcase….


Well, we are about to embark on a few weeks of sea-bourne activity….joining the Regent Seven Seas Voyager – a 6 star vessel for a trip around the eastern Med, starting in Athens and finishing in Venice and taking in Israel and Egypt enroute, not to mention Cyprus and Croatia! I’ve got 8 lectures in the suitcase, and the guitar.

And then at the end of the month, a long cruise from Venice, via Istanbul to Tenerife and thence to Cape Town. Julie will join the ship – the Nautica – in Tenerife. 19 lectures make up the luggage, and, of course, the guitar and few songs and stories. More on all of this later. But first, Los Fresones rise again, live, in Canillas de Aceituno, tonight!

Beneath the walls of Constantinople

Several lecture cruises have recently allowed me to return to my ‘favourite’ city…istanbul…..and so a little history..

Beneath the walls of Constantinople

In 1453 the walls of Constantinople fell to a combination of cannon fire – courtesy of a mysterious Hungarian who went under the name of Orban or possibly Urban –  and the thousands of Ottoman Turks under the control of Mehmet II, ruler of all lands surrounding this last bastion of Christianity in the Middle East.

The siege had been brief as far as sieges go, only 6 weeks, and the defenders, who numbered at best 7,000, had done their best to defend their city against the several hundred thousand besieging it. Calls for help to the outside world had largely been ignored and the religious schism that had set the Byzantium Empire of Constantine apart from the church of Rome was to be its undoing. Apart from a few Venetian soldiers the aid offered to Constantine was far too little, and not just too late, but non-existent.

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