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……..

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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.

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

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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.

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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

Suzanne,

Margaret

Muskaan

Imoshem

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Requested photos of Handmade Flowers

As many of you know, I am making all the flowers for our vow renewal myself from crepe paper. I have had a request to show some of what I have done.

 

These are the roses, I have only done a few in gold , the rest are either ivory or pink, some with glittered petal tips, many without. All have either a tiny gem or a bead in the centre.

To make these I use a glue gun and end up with burnt fingers and lots of stringy bits of glue all over the place but the end result is worth it. Some of the roses are to be used in buttonholes.

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These are some of the first Calla Lilies that I made, they have gold beads for the calyx but since I am having a problem getting the beads I am now making them using gold glitter. I bend a florists wire and cover the end in glue from the glue gun, then roll it in the glitter and stick in some  oasis to dry. Cut out the ivory crepe paper into a longish  shape with a point on one and . Take  the calyx and  glue the narrow end of the paper then wrap around the wire. then using a knife or scissors, roll the paper back , simple to do and very effective, These too will form a part of the buttonholes.

I have also made pink rose buds which will complete the buttonholes but I havent taken a photo yet. I will update this post when I have.

October Pinchicks Challenge

Most of this month has seen me employed in making flowers for our vow renewal. As I am making them all myself from scratch, I am going to need a lot. I have made the wrist corsages for the bridesmaids, but for buttonholes, table decorations and my bouquet  I am going to need a lot of flowers. I had already made roses and calla lilies and was looking for something different when I found these on Pinterest.

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First I cut out two sizes of pink crepe paper circles. It says use punches  but as I don’t have any round punches I cut around  two different sized round objects. The circles don’t have to be perfect thank goodness.

Using wet , tacky glue, you dab a little on the bottom of each circle and gather it together, whilst holding this in place, you stretch the crepe paper out at the top to make a fan shape.  Pour some glue onto a saucer or something similar and dip the edges into this and then into some glitter and put aside and allow to dry. You will need 5 large and 5 small petals for each flower.

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When there are dry, you take one of the spare circles and put some glue in a circle towards the middle. Then take the larger petals and arrange them around the circle, overlapping. Remember to tuck the  last one underneath the first one. Next, put some more glue on and do the same with the smaller petals. Finally, stick a gem or pearl in the centre and sprinkle a little of the glitter around the gem.

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Here are the finished flowers which as you can see, I did in 2 different colours.

You can find the details for this on my Pinterest  under handmade flowers.

These are easy to make and very effective, which is good because I have a lot to make

Who knows, by next month I might have managed one of the table arrangements

Other people who take part in the Pinchicks challenge are:

Suzanne,

Margaret

Muskaan

Imoshem

If you would like to join in please either contact Suzanne or myself.