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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Gosh my posts are getting even more random!

I have always struggled to understand what people are saying. The amount of times I have to ask people to repeat themselves is just phenomenal. Seriously, I have had (or been sent for) so many hearing tests over the years and yet I say the same thing every.single.time. It isn't the VOLUME that is the problem! The volume is fine. It is WHAT people are saying that is the problem. The way I explain it is that if feels like my brain has to translate everything into "Louise-speak" before I can understand it. It's like I know the person is speaking to me in English but it just doesn't make sense! Eventually I catch on. Now I know it sounds funny but this difficulty understanding voices makes it difficult in things like lectures at university, meetings at work and such. In fact I now dread meetings at work, especially when somebody unfamiliar is there (eventually I do learn to "tune in" to people) or when it's a teleconference. I have mentioned this difficulty to loads of people over the years and have always been met with a blank look.

You know that look? The one that suggests I'm barking mad?

And then I stumble over this article on the BBC website and it's like "aha!". The article suggests that many people with dyslexia also struggle to understand spoken voices. In my case I'd even say that I struggle more with spoken voices that reading language. Well why did nobody tell me this earlier - I thought I was nuts...or deaf LOL.

So next time I say "pardon" to you please speak clearly, not louder :)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

De-stressing my life!

Recently, I have made no secret of the fact that I have felt stressed and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and deadlines my life. I have deadlines for work, deadlines for domestic stuff, deadlines for my blog designs, deadlines for my digiscrapping kit designs...In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I looked hard enough, I’d find that I had deadlines for deadlines! The trouble with deadlines is that you seem to spend a lot of mental energy remembering them and (in my case) a lot of mental energy stressing over meeting the deadline.

With soaring stress levels, it was clear that some deadlines had to go! So, I reluctantly closed (indefinitely) to all custom blog designs and decided not to do tutorial Tuesday and Freebie Friday any more. I still plan on posting tutorials and freebies, but on days that I decide I’ll post them...whatever day of the week that may be. I already feel liberated!

I’m still wondering what to do with my wonderful creative team at Adorible digital Designs. I have had a strict release schedule for ages and I know my CT members preferred that as it allowed them to plan. However, all it’s doing now is getting me stressed and I’ve realised that the deadlines need to go. I just need to find a way of releasing kits without deadlines. Hmmm..

I can’t tell you how much less stressed I am by reducing the number of deadlines in my life! Unfortunately, I have a stressful week coming up at work as I’m away on a business trip and there’s a lot of my performance being measured on it. No pressure then!

Has anyone else taken any positive steps to reduce the stress in their life? I’d be interested to know what you did. Don’t forget that if Blogger won’t let you comment you can leave an anonymous comment or use the name/url function.

Friday, 29 July 2011

More random musings

Well yesterday was the funeral and it was pretty much as you’d expect I suppose. My sister in law raised an interesting point that funerals are strange things really. Think about it...the person grieve...and then in the following days the grief gets a little more bearable...then like 10-14 days later you have the funeral and by that point you’re pretty much doing your best to move on and managing reasonably ok...then you have the funeral and it’s like...WHAM!!! Suddenly you’re back at the beginning, taken back to the most grief stricken point and having to start the grieving process again.

When you put it that way it does seem almost barbaric to put yourself through that. But yet I don’t know of a suitable alternative other than trying to get the funeral as closed to the memorial service as possible...which over here is pretty much 10-14 days. I rest my case.

For me the most difficult thing about FIL’s death is that he wasn’t a Christian (in fact he probably bordered more on being an atheist) so I find that hard to resolve. I prayed right up to the very end that in his final moments of lucidity he found God. Very few people in Andy’s family (and my own) are Christian and it does make dealing with death so much more difficult. I mean if the person who died was a Christian at least I could get some comfort from the fact that the person was in heaven.

Onto other things, I am off to the Isle of White on a business trip for 3 days next week so will be out of action most of next week. I already have a backlog of emails to respond to, but I’m simply refusing to stress about it :)

Monday, 25 July 2011

The age of innocence gone forever?

One of the things I liked when I went to Norway recently was the way that it had an old fashioned charm about it. The people were the most open and friendly people I have ever met in my life, people threw litter in the bin, people seemed more polite and caring  and everything just seemed so...innocent. In many villages we were told that people don't need to lock their doors at night!

And now this maniac Anders Breivik has gone on a killing this the end of innocence in Norway? Has he spoilt it for everyone? How many generations of parents will feel vulnerable sending their children to summer camp now? I think the consequences of this will be far reaching and to be felt for a very long time. It's so sad. My heart goes out to everyone who lost somebody, or was injured or had to witness it. May you and your loved ones find peace once again in your beautiful country.

Norway - a country of beautiful scenery and warm, welcoming people...except Anders Breivik of course

Positive post

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I've been finding it really hard to stay positive recently. I was already suffering a lack of energy before becoming completely exhausted making 130 mile trips to the hospital every day to see Andy's dad. However, I am determined to find positive things in all experiences, even the bad ones. So here's some things that my recent experiences have taught me.

1. I married into a wonderful family - a family who welcomed me with open arms and who treat me like their own daughter
2. Many of you know how I'm bit of a workaholic and how I'm always on the go. I love life and feel like I'm missing out when I don't cram in as much as possible. But this week I have realised that actually doing less will allow me to get MORE out of the things that I do do.
3. I have some wonderful readers at my blog design blog, Adori Graphics. When I recently published that I was stopping custom services for the foreseeable future I expected a bunch of hate mail - but ended up with so many messages of support it was very heart-warming.
4. I actually like peppers - anyone who knows me in real life will laugh at this one because I would almost fake death to avoid eating a pepper. I have discovered that if only lightly cooked I quite like them LOL. And most importantly...
5. I have always had a good relationship with God but with each bad thing that happens I end up being drawn closer to him. As much as I've had a horrible couple of weeks I feel that my relationship with God is stronger than ever because of it.

What good things happened to you this week?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

And now for something completely random

Thanks to all for your kind comments. I have read every one of them and appreciate all of my precious readers.

Today's blog post is kind of random - just a few thoughts and observations, as well as a little news.

My lovely father in law
Rest in peace

I'm still gathering ideas for my new office/study as I'll be starting my course in a few weeks. I desperately need a bigger desk and somewhere cosy where I can study in peace. I've decided to go with a calming natural theme and have got a good idea what I'll be getting now. You can check out my ideas at Pinterest.

I just love this big desk - plenty of room for my docking station and everything else that usually clutters up my (much smaller) desk.

In the 4 years that we've lived here we haven't decorated a single room and now we're getting desperate. Our hallway is painted eggshell magnolia and is soooooo badly stained it's not funny. I mean who decorates a hallway in eggshell paint? Anyway, I have some original paintings to hang on the wall and just bought this great shoe storage thing today at Ikea. Cute isn't it?
I'll post some pics when we're done - just need to find some lighting now.

New car
Andy picked up a new car last week. It's a Honda Civic and very space-agey. The voice activated stuff is getting a little irritating though as it's basically impossible to remember all of those commands. Thankfully it is Andy's car and so I don't need to learn how to operate it. If you have one I'd be interested to know what you think of it and what kind of problems you've had with it.
Hospital funny
Ok well we didn't have much to laugh at this week but we did get a laugh at this...
£1 coin operated wheelchairs at the Scunthorpe General Hospital. I have seen it all now! Does hospital management think they're running a supermarket? I mean...really?!

Cruise ports
Just a note to let you know that I'll finish posting vacation pics shortly. Next stop was Geirangerfjord I believe!

Tough decisions
I have been making some tough decisions about the future of my blogging and designs. I simply cannot keep up with what I have been doing over the last 18 months so regrettably, something is going to have to go....maybe not permanently, but at least in the short term.  I'll post more about this later. In the meantime please be patient with my slower responses to email as I have quite a backlog now due to events of the last couple of weeks plus the vacation. I'm about a month behind right now!

Ok well that WAS kind of random but hey ho....

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Just a quick update to let you know that we lost Andy's dad this afternoon. He went very quickly once his heart medication was stopped, with absolutely no awareness of what was going on. I am so grateful that he could die in ICU where there was some (albeit limited) control over when he would die because we live 65 miles away from the hospital and we really wanted to be there when he died. Ernest died at 2.15pm surrounded by those who he loved and who loved him very much.

Thanks to all for your prayers and support :)

Monday, 18 July 2011

I want to get off

I really want OFF this emotional roller coaster. I have had my fill now.

Some important decisions were made today which indicate that the end is near for my dear FIL. I have been expecting this if I'm completely honest but it makes it no easier. Today my brave MIL made the decision that none of us want to make - to not resuscitate my FIL. Please pray for her as she is distraught at this and says she feels like a murderer. Of course we have all told her it was a brave decision, that FIL would not have wanted to spend the rest of his life in a chair or bed (he was soooo active) and that we would ALL Have done the same thing. But she is tortured by her decision and I just don't know what else to say to comfort her.

Tomorrow morning the doctors will be turning off the ventilator. Not long after my FIL will (most likely, barring a miracle...which I haven't given up on) pass away...blissfully unaware of what's going on. Andy says he knows it is in God's hands and he is prepared for whatever happens next.

If I'm truthful, the longer that FIL has been sedated & ventilated, the more I have been worried that we've done the right thing. Yesterday I began to worry that we'd acted selfishly by pulling my FIL this far.

So tomorrow please pray for peace for all of our family.

PS: I will be taking a short break from blogging while I spend time with the family this week. Please understand that I may not reply to your emails and comments etc straight away.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The waiting game

Nothing major to report regarding the FIL situation really. He's had a few issues but he's no longer deteriorating and it's really a case of waiting...and then of course we see if he wakes up and whether he can control his own airway etc. At this stage they aren't sure if he's having seizures. From what I just saw of them the seizures don't look typical (they're focal, but too regular compared to what I've seen before...and they seem to be in synch with the inspiration trigger on his vent....very weird!). Even the ICU nurse wasn't 100% convinced they were true seizures but he's been started on seizure meds anyway. His liver function is a bit off and his blood pressure a bit low but neither are particularly worrying just yet. They'll try waking him up again tomorrow or Monday and if he can't maintain his own airway and/or he still has no cough reflex then they'll do a tracheostomy on Monday/Tuesday.

Despite him not deteriorating any further, the (possible) seizures and lack of cough reflex are worrying as both imply severe brain damage. Clearly I'm praying that it's temporary and that he has a good recovery. I know it's in God's hands and that whatever happens I trust in him. But I can't tell you how sad I'll be if we lose him or if he has seriously impaired function for the rest of his life. We have all tried so hard to keep him alive...the doctors...the (pushing the doctors for treatment etc)...but I wonder is it in FIL's best interests or is it our own selfishness because none of us want to lose this precious man? I just pray that the doctors hear God's guidance. That's all we can do for now.

So now, we continue waiting...

PS: I will continue working on designs in progress, respond to emails and continue blogging by next weekend. Please allow me some time to be with my family right now :)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Quick update

Just a quick update for those awaiting news of my FIL (thanks for your concern & emails by the way). He is now sedated and on a ventilator and is going for a repeat brain scan this afternoon. This most likely means a sudden deterioration in his condition but I won't know more until we get to the hospital this evening - presuming we're not called in before then. I think now is the time to make sure that hubby understands what to expect when we get there - I think he's in for a shock. I'm sure I'll be shocked and I know what to expect. Please continue to pray for us. If it isn't God's will that he's healed then I understand that, I just don't want him to suffer and I don't want peace for the family. It feels like I'm living a nightmare myself - and it's not even my own father.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Now in ICU

I feel far too tired at the moment to even go into the problems we've been having with lack of communication, lack of medical care and the hospital acting against suggested clinical guidelines with respect to my father in law's care. When Andy went to the hospital last night he made it clear that we knew they were breaking guidelines and that we were looking for answers as to why. When Andy came home last night we were all concerned that the ward staff hadn't noticed that his dad had deteriorated and didn't really seem to be doing much. We were all frustrated and angry at the way he was being treated. The original plan was for Andy and I to meet the doctors on Friday afternoon and find out what was going on. Anyway, his dad had other ideas, as we were about to find out.

We got THE phone call at 10am this morning - the one where you're told to dash to the hospital. Not good news this morning as Andy's dad had deteriorated a lot overnight and was now unresponsive. The hospital where he was at were transferring him to a hospital which had better facilities so we were told to go straight to the new hospital.

When we got there he doctor spoke to us as soon as our feet landed on the ward. We explained our issues with the previous hospital and asked him to be honest...good or bad news we just wanted answers. And then we pulled out the "nurse card". Normally I don't use it because I remember how intimidating it used to be when I was looking after doctors and nurses. But what I was really meaning was "don't pull the wool over our eyes or treat us like idiots because I understand every word you're saying".

After that things seemed to happen really quickly, he got the brain scan that he needed (which confirmed a brain infarct - stroke) and the doctors quickly got a plan together.  I asked them to add chest physio to his treatment plan (and oh boy did he sound BETTER after it!) and asked them to start him on IV fluids because he's not drunk in well over 24 hours. Sure enough they sorted it out, much to our relief.

He was later transferred to ICU - although I think he was actually looking a little better by that point. However he is still very, very sick and we're not sure which way things are going to go. The general consensus at this point is that he had a stroke and aspirated, giving him aspiration pneumonia and septicaemia. He's got a long way to go and it breaks my heart to see this active, independent man lying so helpless in ICU.

So, tonight I'll be praying for God to continue to guide the doctors towards the right treatment. I have confidence that the doctors are doing everything they can (no thanks to the previous hospital) and so now we wait.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers x

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Trying to keep busy

Sometimes the more you know, the more difficult things are. Being a trained nurse it can be difficult to not take over in family health-emergency related issues. I find it frustrating that all I get are garbled half-correct (and sometimes wildly inaccurate) messages from people. I understand medical's familiar...and it is descriptive and meaningful and leaves me in no doubt as to a person's condition....however bad that might be. But when all you're getting are messages which suggest that people are ok and then one contradicting it saying that everything is NOT ok...and then you get a message asking who they should complain too.....ugh! It makes me want to drive over there and take over. Yet (frustratingly) I am sat here, very worried, very confused and trying to make sense of euphemisms and other people's confusion. Andy got a rather worrying text message from his brother this afternoon so Andy left straight for the hospital and couldn't pick me up as he didn't want to delay (not knowing if time was of the essence or not). So I'm trying to keep busy and praying to God that he is actually ok (relatively speaking).

And of course how do I support my husband who is (potentially) about to lose his father?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Prayers and thoughts needed

From left to right: father in law, me, hubby, mother in law
 My father in law suffered (we think) a stroke this morning and is in hospital. We've just got home from work and chores and it's now 10.30pm so we can't go visit now. My mother in law was very unclear as to how sick my father in law is so poor hubby has no idea what to expect when he gets to the hospital tomorrow. Hubby is quite phobic of hospitals and normally I have to prepare him by explaining what he's likely to see before he even gets there. Anyway, please pray that my father in law isn't suffering and that he makes a good recovery. He has always been very independent and will not be a happy bunny if others are having to help him out with things *sigh*.

The good things

Yesterday I shared a little personal stuff about me and one of the things that I struggle with. I find it difficult to be very open on my blog and difficult to talk about my feelings and whatever is in my heart but I’d really like to change that. I do hope not to disappoint too many of you or offend etc but I need my blog to be a place where I feel I can vent and be honest. If you happen to disagree with what I say, that’s fine, but please don’t post nasty or hurtful comments. That’s my only request :)

Ok here’s another snippet about me.....I’ve always been bit of a pessimist – you know a glass is half empty kind of person. I’m aware that this sometimes drags other people down with me (including me) and so today I’m going to focus on the good things in an effort to be more positive.

5 good things which happened in the last 24 hours
1. the roads were really quiet coming to work. I don’t like heavy traffic so this was a pleasant start to the day.
2. a colleague went above and beyond to help me – that’s always appreciated.
3. I managed to find a parking space at work which wasn’t in a deep puddle or other cruddy area of the car park
4. cuddled on the settee with hubby
5. had a phone call from my sister

I could easy triple that by writing 15 negative things but I will refrain LOL

What good things happened to you today? Share them in a comment :)
(If Blogger won’t let you comment you can comment using the name/url option or even anonymous but remember to leave your name so i can respond if needed).

Monday, 11 July 2011

Thanks & about comments

I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who have emailed me to express your understanding and to offer me the chance to talk. The truth is that I find it very difficult to talk about my feelings in public and I find it difficult to offer more than just a glimpse into the real me - but I am trying to change that and I appreciate your support.

Some of you have said you tried to comment but you couldn't get it to work. Unfortunately Blogger comments (all over Blogger - not just mine) are still not working properly for all people. You can however leave a comment by selecting to leave a comment as name/url or even anonymous (just write your profile name or name in the post so I know it's you).

In time I'd like to share more, but out of respect for my family I don't feel that I can share too much information here on the blog, especially in depth details regarding why I have a self esteem issue in the first place. I know that many of you will understand this. Your understanding and patience means a lot to me and in some ways I'm relieved (yet saddened) that some of you do struggle as much as I do. 

Beating low self esteem

I have spoken to very few of my readers in real life, consequently many of you don't know about the struggle that I've had with poor self esteem over the years. We're not just talking about feeling a bit low in confidence here, but something which is much, much more disabling. So, I bought a book on beating low self esteem.  The book covers things like reasons for low self esteem, why we behave as we do (when we have low self esteem) and sets a framework for climbing out of the rut. I've only had a quick flick through so far and have only just started reading it properly. So far I have discovered that:

1. previous situations lead to poor self esteem - it may be one bad situation, multiple bad situations (of any magnitude) or just not enough good situations
2. these situations lead us to make a conclusion about ourselves which is wrong or biased - these conclusions are called "the bottom line"
3. at some point in time those conclusions were understandable and made perfect sense - especially if you were a child and had limited understanding anyway
4. people with low self esteem are always on the lookout for situations which confirm their bottom line or conclusion - this is known in many circles as hypervigilence - or reading too much into things I call it.
5. people with low self esteem often "tune out" to positive things, which makes it even harder to feel positive
6. people with low self esteem often have negative predictions- basically "what if" questions like "what if I do x and y happens". People get annoyed with me about this all the time - my mum often tells me to stop putting barriers in my way.
7. these negative predictions lead to anxiety and to people setting up unhelpful coping mechanisms which are helpful in the short term, but in the long term just lead to more anxiety and reinforce the bottom line.

Some of my bottom lines (biased conclusions about myself) are:
1. I am worthless
2. I am unlovable
3. Nobody will like me no matter what I do
4. It will never be perfect enough
5. I am a bad person

Some coping mechanisms based on these would be:
1. In a group situation, let everyone have their say first because nobody really wants to hear what I say anyway.
2. Don't bother making new friends because once people get to know me they won't like me anyway
3. Don't bother trying because it will never be perfect enough- if I do try, work myself do death getting it perfect

It's easy to see now that when I was a child, these were perfectly logical conclusions based on the feedback that I was getting. But now that I'm older they hold me back. At work I am told that I'm too quiet and don't contribute enough in meetings. I find it difficult to make friends because I'm so scared of rejection. The list just goes on and, for the sake of my sanity, the has to stop!

I can't even put into words how empowering it is to finally understand why I behave as I do and why I have such poor self esteem. I feel like now, more than ever, I can actually do something about it. It isn't just a personality trait, it something that I learned due to past situations, and it's possible that I can set up new ways of thinking and finally find the confidence and self-appreciation and self-loving that I've always dreamed of!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Welcome to Olden!

Olden is a village situated the mouth of the Oldeelva River in the Oldedalen valley along the Nordfjord in Norway. About 500 people live in this village, which is only 3/4km in size.

When we arrived at this port I was immediately struck by how picturesque the place was. Here we were on top of a river, surrounded by steep, tall, green hills and typical Norwegian architecture. It truly is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to and this memory will stay with me for a long time. Unfortunately the photos don't do it justice - blame the photographer ugh!
View from the top of the ship. The village centre is situated in the top third of the image. Notice how the ship docks right at the side of the road.
Closer view of the village centre.

We took a trip at this port because, when we looked at the port on Google Earth at home, it was clear that there wasn't really much here. We did enjoy our trip (which was essentially just a sightseeing tour) but to be honest, we really could have made a full day out of just plodding about looking at the buildings and taking photos etc.

The trip that we took was a cruise down Oldavatnet Lake on a small boat. It was a nice trip (though cold on the lake) but the best bit was the drive through the small villages on the way to the lake. We passed some beautiful places like these...
Opposite side of the fjord
Oldavatnet Lake
From the lake we could see a glacier (Briksadalsbreen), which is essentially a "finger" of a much larger glacier and was really quite amazing. The glacier looked quite small, but this is the middle of summer here and apparently the size of the glacier depends on not just the temperature but the amount of rain too. Apparently, the season has been a little drier here than usual.
Briksadalsbreen (glacier)
After the lake trip we drove back through the outskirts of Olden before arriving at the village centre where the shops are (not many I hasten to add!). The centre was beautiful and had a cute little church which was built in 1759.
Towards the village centre
Old village church
Sailing back out past Olden we past some other pretty towns, like this one here...
Cute town which we passed on the way back through the fjord.
And of course we took a couple of pics of ourselves - the trouble with couples holidays though is that you always come back with a ton of pics of you both separately! The first one is me (obviously) and the second one was Andy which was taken outside at....midnight!
A rare image - it's not often that this gal posts pics of herself - especially not of her body!
Andy - outside at midnight!
Ok, that's your whistle stop tour of Olden. Next stop...Trondheim.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Next port of call....Bergen

Our next port of call was Bergen. Bergen is located on the south west coast of Norway and (we were told) is the second largest city in Norway. In 1217 it even replaced Trondheim as the country's capital - the capital now is Oslo - and has been since 1299 according to our tour guide.
Bergen - photo captured from the viewing platform at the top of the funicular railway

Around 1100 the city became important for the trade of dried cod which came from the north Norwegian coast. Later on (in about the 14th/15th century) it became an important trade center for the whole of Norway, with much of the trade being carried out from the old quayside (Bryggen), which is still there today. On the day that we went to the Bryggen there was a huge market going on with people trading much more than dried fish :)

We started our trip at the city park where out shuttle bus dropped us off. The park has a large (man made?) lake with a fountain and is really pretty. There was lots of seating around so we vegged out for a bit a just took in the view.
Bergen's city park
After that we went to the old Bryggen and walked/sat around there for a while doing my favourite activity "people-watching". It was fun to see what the locals were doing and what they were eating etc...basically grabbing a snap shot of their life.  This is what the Bryggen looks like today...
The Bryggen (old quayside) at Bergen
I even managed to sneak a pic of hubs - I do have pics of me too but they're in hubby's camera

We spent some time here looking around the old quayside and then made our way to the funicular railway. This railway (called the Fløibanen) runs up the Fløyen mountain and provides the best views of the whole of the Bergen region. The view from the viewing platform (320m above sea level) is absolutely stunning and is used in many of the tourist brochures that you will see around. The first picture that I added to this post was taken from up there. The cost was 70Kr each (which is about £7.50 or US$11) for a return trip and the railway cars leave every 10-15 minutes carrying about 40 passengers at a time - the cars and station have good access too and there was good provision for wheelchair users. This is a must see if you go to Bergen!

After that we just had a nosey around town and came across one of these (sheesh they get everywhere I tell you!). I loved how the building blends into the other historic buildings around it, much like they did with the McD's in York (England).
Mc D' must never be more than a couple of miles from one. We didn't go in by the way.
We only got a few hours in Bergen but it was enough to get a good idea about what the place looked like and what people do here. The trip out of Bergen takes you back through the fjord (if you're on a ship!) and gives you some more spectacular views. I just loved the colourful buildings here.
Further up the fjord
That was pretty much our visit to Bergen, check back in a few days for tales of our next port of call...Olden. Olden was my (joint) favourite port of call :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Back from Norway

Thanks to everyone to emailed me wishing me a great trip to Norway. We had a fabulous time and some wonderful weather. Who would believe that you could get sunburnt in the Arctic Circle? It was about 12-13 degrees (Celsius) most of the time we were away but the sun must have been very strong! I'll know for next time...

I'm really tired right now - have spent much of the afternoon paying bills and doing chores. Have also managed to come back with a (hopefully mild) recurrence of the health problems I had over Christmas. What a bummer...wasn't the best end to the holiday really. Am watching and waiting to see what develops and am hopeful that I won't need more surgery. If I do disappear of the radar for a few days in the next couple of weeks, you know where I'll be LOL.

I'll share some pics of the ports of call with you later, but wanted to just share a few of the ship and our journey out of England first.

I don't know what this building is called but we passed it on the way out of England and I thought it looked pretty.

I've passed these old forts from WWII in the English Channel before when I was working on the Isle of White and I thought they were interesting. I'm surprised they're still there really - for one thing they're a bit macabre and another thing, surely they're a risk to shipping?
Call us cheap but we always go for a cheap inside cabin. Our opinion has always been that it's just not worth splashing out for the amount of time that you spend in your cabin. However on this trip I must admit we did wish we'd splurged and gone for a balcony because there were lots of times we could have used it (normally you don't cruise so close to land so it's not worth it IMO, but we were SO close to the land that it would have been so much better of we had).  Actually we did originally debate getting a balcony but when we saw that it was more than twice the cost, we decided to go on 2 cheaper cruises instead - one was last October to the Canaries and then this was the second.
Loved this little pool at the back of the ship but it got really busy so we went to the main pool which was actually much quieter.
This was one of the main pools on the ship. I loved the sculpture at the end of the pool...
Check out the lovely texture of the sculpture.
Ok, well join me on my next stop (hopefully tomorrow) which is Bergen - Norway's second largest city...and a beautiful one at that!