Our Vow Renewal – changes

As most of you know, this has been planned for for the past 2 years now. The church was booked on our 48th wedding anniversary. I booked it through the churchwarden who told me in an email that although not a marriage ceremony, a vow renewal is very similar to a marriage. Based on this, I started the planning of the whole event.

This is something which is very personal to us and we feel that we should be able to celebrate it in our own way. This, more so because we have only had one marriage in 50 years and so,  it was important to us that we celebrate it in our own way.  I decided that I wanted to include as many of my family as I could, and for that reason I chose to have 6 bridesmaids, 4 granddaughters, daughter in law and daughter. This was not because I feel that I am a bride, on the contrary, it was to include family members and the little girls love to dress up. We  have 2 sons so we asked the eldest to be best man and the younger one to escort me down the aisle, the other daughter in law to do a reading and two grandaughters to sing. Yes, we wanted to include everyone and we knew what we wanted.

In November we arranged to go and see the vicar to sort out the service as we would be away for most of December, half of January and half of February.  Father Richard was pleasant enough but delivered the first blow when I said that I wanted the girls to sing Leonard Cohens “Hallelujah ” – the probelm was that it is lent and the one word that they dont use in church during lent is Hallelujah. I straight away agreed to change my song choice. Father Richard then raised his eyebrows when I said that I was having bridesmaids and asked when I wanted them to walk into the church. I said I wasn’t too bothered really and he suggested ” they can walk in behind the two of you.

Now us entering the curch together had never been part of my remit! I bought my dress when we were in London last May whilst hubby was at a football match and it has been under wraps since then – he still hasnt seen it. That plan would have gone straight out of the window. I also have an ex chauffeur who is going to pick me up from the hotel and take me to the church whos services would not be necessary.

He then asked about hymns and readings. I said that I wanted Anne to do a reading . We had alsready chosen something that we wanted her to read but Father Richard wasnt interested, he told us that he would send us a list of readings that we could choose from.

Now, for the priveledge of being told what we could and couldnt do for our celebration and having to make our choices from his choices, he was charging us 450€ and I was quite upset about his suggestions. The next day, after mulling it over all night, I emailed him, early in the morning and asked if he would compromise and allow Dave to be in the church ahead of me and me to be escorted in by my son. he emailed back very quickly to say that he would have to give the matter some serious consideration. It took him 5 weeks to get back to me and when he eventually did, he said that he had decided that this was not possible. The guidelines of the church state that when a couple  are already married, they should enter the church together, without ceremony and sit at the front.

We talked long and  hard about this. We both really wanted the service to take place in church, but we also felt that we had already compromised about the song and he was not prepared to bend at all. We were not happy with this and ultimately we found a celebrant who would write us a bespoke ceremony and conduct it under a pergola out the back of the restaurant where the reception was to be held. I wrote to Father Richard and cancelled and did not even get the courtesy of a reply.

Now, with our anniversary itself just 2 weeks away and the vow renewal 3 weeks away, everything is in place. Lynda has written us a very personal ceremony which mentions and includes all of our family members. One of the grandadaughters who was to sing is not able to make it but the other brave girl will sing Hallelujah, solo.

I just have a few more buttonholes to make and then all of the flowers are finished. I made a posy to carry,for  myself but a coupe of weeks ago I pulled it to bits as I felt that it was too bridal. I have since made an arrangement of flowers and attached to my handbag and I am a lot happier with it.

Next week we will finalise numbers, menu choices and liase with the hotel.

Our anniversary, on 1st April will be a quiet affair but from 4th  people start arriving and on Friday 7th we go to the hotel for the week end.

I shall be posting photos and lots more details on here afterwards so make sure you click follow on here so that you are informed each time I update.

The Better Side of the Cruise

Oh, how behind I have got with this blog. The big problem has been that we have been passing this cold and chest infection back and forth between us since Christmas. It wasn’t until last week that we finally felt that we were both more or less free of it. Add to that, nearly 6 weeks in Tenerife and the fact that the vow renewal is looming closer and closer and you can understand why. Anyway I am trying to catch up over the next few days and bring this up to date  so that all the vow renewal photos can go on here.

The cruise started from Malaga and we were picked up in Torrevieja at 6. 20 am

It was a cold start but the sun came up and it ended up being a beautiful day and the coach ride to Malaga was good. We passed some beautiful scenery.

The snow capped Sierra Nevadas looked amazing


The town of Guadix is very picturesque and has lots and lots of cave houses

We arrived at the port of Malaga early afternoon ready for embarcation

Our first stop was Gibraltar but as we were only there for half a day, I didnt get any photographs , we just had a quick walk around the shops and then back to the ship to continue our discussions with reception about a change of cabin.

After a day at sea, we docked in Gran Canaria on Saturday morning. Our daughter, Rebbecca and her partner, Fran came over from Tenerife to spend the day with us and we had a really lovely day.

It was really hot and sunny despite it being  December, the beach was quite full and we saw the most amazing belen ( Nativity scene) this one was made of sand sculptures

These sand sculptures were all made by one man

From there we were back on the ship for 7 days, during which time we had the Captains cocktail party

We were very lucky as we spent 7 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean, in December, and it was so calm that we could have been on a boating lake. Just as well really as with all the sewage problems on board, goodness only knows what would have happened if it had been rough and lots of people had been seasick – it doesnt bear thinking about!

Our next stop was St Maarten, which we loved.



They also had a unique style of Christmas tree

Next stop was Antiqua. The port area was not very nice but when we went on a taxi ride around the island we saw some of the nicer parts

Our taxi driver told us that Antigua is a very religeous island


Some people were having fun in the rainforest

This was Happy Beach, what an appropriate name

Our next stop was in St Lucia

Next stop was Barbados which I fell in love with.


I loved the colonial style buildings and we found the people were so genuinely friendly and helpful.

All these Christmas trees had been decorated by school childern

Just some of the beautiful sunsets that we saw.

Our final stop and disembarcation point was the Dominican Republic. I didnt get any photographs because we really didnt rate it. The flight back was long and uncomfortable and we finally arrived home at 9pm Christmas Eve so needless to say, it was a very quiet Christmas for us.


Long Absence

Well here we are almost at the end of January and it is 2 months since I last posted. So much has happened in that time that it is going to take quite a few posts to bring you up to date on everything. First though, we went on a transatlantic cruise to the Caribbean.

We were picked up at 6.20am on 7th December and taken by coach to Malaga where we were to Embark the Pullmanturs Zenith. The cruise had been sold to us by Vivalia Travel of Torrevieja as a 3 star cruise, not a 5 star as most cruises are. It seems very competetively priced so we were happy to accept that and it was a chance to get a glimpse of the Caribbean. We also felt that the price reflected some factors , such as the fact that the ship was re locating anyway and the time of year as we were due home late on Christmas Eve, which wouldnt suit everyone.

The cruise was our Christmas present to each other, so disappointments were taken very badly. There were many disappointments on this cruise, all down to the state of the ship. Here is a review that I sent in to Cruise Critic recently.

We saw this cruise advertised in the local press and the price was very good. It was a transatlantic cruise from Malaga to the Caribbean. We thought that it was reasonably priced because it was a transatlantic and we weren’t due back until late on Christmas eve.

We asked if it was predominantly Spanish and were told, no, the crew all speak English, literature is in English and the whole cruise is international as it is sold to English and French too.

On arrival at our allocated cabin ( 4048) we were met by the cabin steward , who apologised to us and explained that the lock on the cabin door was not working and he thought that it needed the battery replacing. He said that he had reported it and it would be fixed, but in the meantime, we would be unable to close the cabin door as once closed, our magnetic card would not open it. We left our cases on the bed, locked for security purposes and went to get a drink.

When we returned, the lock was still not functioning. It was then that we discovered that the carpet in our cabin was soaked – too wet for us to walk over it in our bare feet and it was soaked from the door to under the bed and the full width of the bed. We went to reception and reported this and also the fact that the lock was not working on our cabin door.

We then discovered that the plug to sink was useless and we had no cold water with which to clean our teeth.

We returned to reception and joined the ever growing queue again to report this, the lock and the wet carpet. We requested to be moved to a different cabin and were told that there were none available but a blower was installed into our room in an attempt to dry the carpet out .

At 9pm, 6 hours after accessing our cabin, we finally had the lock fixed but the blower in the room was just bringing out the smell from the carpet , which we now realised was water from the sewage pipes. By this time we had discovered that each time we flushed the toilet , water gushed from the back of the toilet onto the floor of the bathroom. This leak was so bad that my husband put the bath mat down to soak up the water and within seconds it was dripping when he lifted it.

A third visit to reception was a total waste of time. On our first night aboard, a keycard was inserted into our cabin at around midnight and someone attempted to walk in, but we had mindfully put the blower in front of the door before we went to bed.

That night the smell in our cabin was so bad that I was unable to sleep. The next morning we went back to reception again and after much arguing, we were offered another cabin (4005) which we refused because it was noisy even when we were stationary and also it was right at the front of the ship and would therefore be more subject to bounce if we encountered rough seas. We were then shown cabin 4081 which we accepted.

This cabin though was still not without minor problems. We reported at least 6 times that we had no sink plug and in the end , when we were in Gran Canaria, we found a ferreteria and bought our own . We also had a leak from the back of the toilet , but this was much less than the leak in the original cabin and after 6 days a plumber finally arrived to fix it.

On the day that we first embarked the Zenith, there were no pubic toilets in operation and the sewage system was a huge problem throughout our stay , with many people sufffering blocked and overflowing toilets. On our second night in cabin 4081 , my husband flushed the toilet at 11.30pm and it overflowed until the bathroom was under 2-3″ of water and the toilet brush was floating. Fortunately, it stopped before it overflowed once again into our cabin. Some of smells on board were atrocious and we did remark to those on reception that we were fearful of an outbreak of dysentry or something similar with so much sewage tainted water being poured into the carpets.

Most mornings of our trip the water from the taps was brown and we were unable to use it to clean our teeth or to wash small items of personal nature.

For the first few days of the cruise, the jacuzzi’s were out of use and when they did open them , only two were available. For the first 11 days of the cruise, one of the restaurants was out of use due to refurbishment but with approximately 1000 guests on board, this left the one remaining restaurant very overcrowded.

On gala night, our choices of meal were duck or steak. On our table of 6 both were ordered and none were eaten as everything was too tough to be considered edible.

On most evenings the accompaniments of chips, mashed potato and vegetables were served either lukewarm or cold. They would be brought to the servery and left there for up to 10 minutes before being served. Apart from these complaints, the food was usually of a good standard.

Entertainment on the ship was generally pretty poor. The Abba night was good and the Rock Never Dies on the last night was excellent but despite reassurances that the ship was international, most shows were predominantly in Spanish.

Daytime entertainment, considering that we were to spend 9 days in total at sea, was non existent. There were lots of seminars throughout the day, but all were put on by the spa and were aimed at selling their products and services. The arts and crafts classes were so basic that I could have taken better myself and the few quizzes entailed running to hit a bell, which for people of our age group is not acceptable. Having cruised before , we expected a full entertainments programe. There was a lot of bingo played but that is definately not for everyone. If we hadn’t been lucky enough to encounter extremely good weather during our crossing, the entertainment programe would have been totally inadequate. Had we experienced rough seas, the plumbing would have been an even worse nightmare than it was.

On our final day aboard, we left our cabins at 9 a.m. and when we required the toilets, we found that the public toilets on deck 8 were both out of order, the ladies had water absolutely pouring out of the door soaking the carpet in the corridor and into the entrance of the theatre.

Disembarkation was a complete joke. The cruise director asked people to leave the theatre a section at a time but after the first ones had left, the Spanish started getting up and going anyway and no one stopped them, which cause massive congestion problems.

Halfway through the cruise I spoke to the cruise director and asked if some of us could organise a Christmas Carol service in one of the bars. I was told that they had a Christmas show planned ( it turned out to be a dead loss). After speaking to guests, the general opinion was that anything that they put on would not be Christmas carols , so would be totally different to what we planned. I went to reception and asked to speak to David again. I was told that he knew about it. I explained that I needed to speak to him again and the receptionist said that he would put in a request but David never did get back to me, he just wasn’t interested in what the British wanted.

The flight home was a mere continuation of the holiday. The plane was owned by Pullmanturs and embarcation of 500 passengers took about anhour and a half, one of the toilets was out of service and the consoles on our seats were not working. Lights were dimmed throughout apart from when we were eating and air conditioning was only put on 3 times, each lasting a few minutes. The plane was excessively hot, many people were coughing so is it surprising that 3 days later I went down with a throat and chest bug which I still have 3 weeks later.

After our return, I happened to speak to a lady who was a complete stranger to me. It turned out that she was on the Zenith around the Med from October 30th – Nov. 6th and they experienced the same problems then. It appears to me that this ship has serious problems with their sewage system. Every time a toilet overflows and soaks a carpet, they deal with it by drying the bacteria laden carpet with a blower, thus drying the bacteria on for people to walk on, both in cabins and in public areas.

I must just say that in general, we enjoyed the cruise. We were very lucky that it was so calm all the way across. We speant a lovely day with our dfdaughter and her partner in Gran Canaria when we stopped there and we enjoyed our experience of the Caribbean. We also made lots of friends, mainly due , I think, to the fact that we all had the same problems and in the end we were able to laugh about them.

I will post pictured of the cruise later today when I go back to my own computer where they are stored. At the moment I am using my daughters.

November Pinchicks Challenge

Well ladies, you can see how organised I am this month as my challenge has been finished for over a week now. However, I must add that it is one of the table decorations for our vow renewal and I wanted to get the majority of them done before we go away.

The idea came from a pin that you will find under crafts on my page. It is based around the principles of the floating teacups that  you can find on there, only I wanted to adapt it to fit the occasion and to be unique. As the vow renewal is to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary, I started with square, gold coloured plastic trays , which are easily available here from the Chinese shops. Instead of a teacup, I used disposable plastic champagne flutes. I bought some very cheap forks whilst we were in England , I wanted the cheapest that I could find so that they would be bendable. As the glass and tray are both plastic,. I needed something to weight it down and had planned to use some stones off the beach, but whilst we were in England I spotted some glass stones and bought those so that if they showed it didn’t matter, in fact, I deliberately placed some where they would be seen as they are quite pretty. I also found some long strings of pearls and I bought some gold, glittery paper and borrowed my sisters medium sized butterfly punch whilst we were there and punched out some butterflies for embellishment.

I had made a variety of flowers so I was all set, I warmed up the glue gun and set off. I started by bending the fork so that it would sit in the tray and angled the handle back like so……..


Next, you stick the champagne flute to the handle. This is quite fiddly to start with and you have to be patient and hold it whilst the glue dries. Don’t worry about the glue showing as this will be completely covered eventually.


Now you need to weight it down with the stones, I stuck them into place randomly with the hot glue


Now you start by placing tiny flowers into the glass, I used my scissors to put them into the far end, increase the size as you get nearer the opening. Gradually build up all the way around the fork and cover front and back with the flowers.

I then added the pearls and tied some narrow cream ribbon around the stem of the glass, I took 3 lengths of ribbon together , tied them around and then pulled out the loops of the bow. To finish off , I added a few of the butterflies to tie in with the theme of the day.


Since making this one, I have made several more, in fact, I am now on my 7th one.

Apologies in advance as I am unlikely to manage the December challenge as we will be away from 6th – Christmas eve, but if I can, I will, I might surprise myself.

Other ladies in the pinchicks challenge are





But dont forget that these ladies have until the end of the month to put theirs up.

If you would like to take part in these challenges in the future please contact Suzanne or myself.

Meet Harvey

Our granddaughter, Jessica, who was expecting her first baby on 9th November, suddenly started to itch all over. When she mentioned this to her midwife, she was diagnosed with a liver condition that is linked to pregnancy. They stressed the need to get the baby out as soon as was possible. Of course, this was a very worrying time for us, especially as she lives in England and we are in Spain. This was towards the end of October, they did a membrane sweep on the Friday to try and break the waters, but it didn’t work. They tried again on the Monday with the same result, so they arranged for her to go in on Wednesday evening to be induced.

On Wednesday, when she went in, she was examined and they told her that they couldn’t induce her as she was already in the first stages of labour. Next morning, she was given two tablets which they said would help speed things up. She was having contractions all day but by evening they had stopped. Friday they gave her another tablet which again started the contractions , but once again, they stopped by nightfall. Messages were flying thick and fast between us as worry kicked in. Then on Saturday they announced that they were going to give her a break that day. They allowed her to go home for a few ours and come back in the evening.

On Sunday she was given another tablet with exactly the same outcome. Monday they tried another membrane sweep, another tablet and she was getting regular, strong contractions but nothing more was happening, so in the afternoon the doctor made the decision to break her waters. During the evening, they decided to put her on a drip, as another attempt to speed things up. You can imagine how beside ourselves we were by this time. I last spoke to her at 10 pm her time and told her that I would put my phone on silent so as soon as there was any news, to let me know. I then spent the night waking up frequently just to check my phone.

Imagine my dismay, when I got up at 7am ( 6am in UK) and there was no message. Worry wasnt in it, it was going off the scale by now. At 7.15 am her time, I sent her a message to ask what was happening and got a photo by return, Harvey was born at 5.51 am and he weighed in at 7lbs 13.5 oz.  Here is the little beauty.

How to make rosebuds

Further to my last postings about handmade flowers. In the last few days I have been making rosebuds to do in the table decorations and buttonholes. I thought you might be interested to see how I made them.


These are the materials that you need.

Florists wires, cut to a short length

Polystyrene balls – you can get these in various sizes so can vary the size of rosebuds

Crepe paper, cut into petal shapes

and of course, your trusty glue gun to ensure that you get burnt fingers and thin strands of glue everywhere.


Start by bending on end of the wire. Insert it into the polystyrene ball and push all the way through until the hooked end catches it in place.


Take your first petal, glue along the bottom of it and stretch this around the base of the ball. Next stretch the top and glue it around the ball, then do the same with the other side so that the paper forms a roll.


Take another petal and stretch tightly around, then curl the top of the petal outwards, you can repeat this with as many petals as you like but I only used 2 or 3 for mine as I only wanted small rosebuds.


Here is one of the finished buttonholes. What do you think?