Category Archives: Reviews

Sunday, 12th September, 2021

After a restless night, the cabin was far too hot and hubby was snoring, we woke up at around 6.30 AM and hubby did his morning ritual of going to the Horizon buffet and fetching a cup of coffee for himself and a green tea for me.

We had breakfast at the Horizon Restaurant where we both had a fried breakfast. We decided to go on a more detailed tour of the ship as we hadn’t really seen much of it the night before.

I have to say that the ship is very well sign posted and so it is fairly easy to navigate around. We took the stairs as much as possible: 1, to try and lose some of the pounds we will gain over the cruise and 2, the lifts are a bit of a faff. The maximum people allowed in a lift is four and there is a sign stating that you have to stand on the markers on the floor and no talking!

We stopped of at Vista for a Costa Coffee where I had an iced latte, which was just a cold coffee (urgh) and hubby had a Caramel Frostini which was very, very sweet. He has the sweetest tooth I know, but even he couldn’t finish it!

After picking up a few things from the cabin, we went up to the Sky Dome, it wasn’t very busy and we managed to get a couple of sunbeds next to the pool.

As I’ve mentioned in another blog (G131N Staycation Cruise) I love people watching and in particular which books people have chosen to read, but sitting at the side of the pool another kind of people watching was discovered: looking at people’s faces as they get into the pool, as it was VERY cold. When hubby got out he said, that it was so cold, everything got smaller!

Time to start reading our books….

As it was before midday I ordered a non-alcohol cocktail and hubby, who doesn’t let something like that get in the way, ordered a beer. The waiter service is a bit slower on Iona, but we never had to wait too long to be served, but we did notice people who accosted the waiters before they have even found somewhere to sit, ensuring they get a drink straight away.

Craig Stuart

Not being a huge gin fan, I decided to order a Pink Gin Spritzer cocktail, which was actually very nice and hubby had a Strawberry Mojito and then Busker, Craig Stuart started his set. A great singer who was also entertaining with his comments and who had amassed a couple of groupies with two women who hung on to his every word!

Then I’m ashamed to say we went back to the cabin for a nap! When I woke up hubby was sat on the balcony reading his book, I’ve never known him to read so much, it must be good!

Earlier hubby had booked us into the Coral Restaurant, when he tried to book it for two there was no availability, but when he put in three people, it came up with availability? So he booked it!

On arrival at the restaurant we went straight through, but when we sat at the table we were questioned as to why there was only two of us. They were a bit taken aback when we said they couldn’t make it and it didn’t go down well with the waiting staff. After a few minutes of talk, we were moved from our table for three to a table of two, seated next to the window, so it worked out well for us!

I had tomato soup followed by sirloin steak and hubby had smoked mackerel pate and then the beef brisket. A special mention goes to the thick cut chips, they were wonderful! We had a glass of Prosecco each and dessert was lemon seed cake for me and cheese and biscuits for hubby together with a port.

We had about half an hour before we were due to go to the Headliner’s Theatre and went to the Club House and saw Tucker, the comedian. We didn’t have very high expectations with Tucker, but he was funny, his jokes about the internet package and the strength of the signal hit the nail on the head. Talking about the internet signal, I couldn’t log onto any of my computer equipment, so I had to resort to the old fashioned way of writing everything in a notebook! And so hence this being uploaded after the cruise.

Writing my diary the old fashioned way.

The act in the Headliner Theatre was Craig Lloyd, a soul singer. We aren’t fans of soul music but he was a great singer. He was also a name dropper, Simon Cowell, Sinitta and Gary Barlow. He was in the first series of the X Factor and made it to judge’s houses and became a vocal coach for The Voice.

A highlight was at the end when Andy, the Assistant Entertainment Manager, had to orchestrate everybody leaving the theatre row by row. his comments made everyone laugh as we exited safely within Covid guidelines! You have to keep your masks on in the theatre and there is no food or drink. This was pre-bookable on the Cruise Personaliser and people were being turned away who hadn’t booked.

We went back to the Sky Dome and watched Pulse’s Rock Show. The sound wasn’t great, I couldn’t make out what they were singing straight away for a few of the songs, but the lighting was fantastic. A Pina Colado for me and a Mojito for hubby while we were watching them.

I had heard a lot of things about the 710 club via Facebook before the cruise, the overwhelming comments were how good it was, but the main complaint was that people would enter at the beginning of the evening and stay there for the entire evening. I did notice in the Horizon newsletter that it requested people to vacate the club after they have watched the session. So we went down to Deck 6 and were pleased to be able to join the queue for the next session.

The 710 Club is an intimate venue with seating for 75 people. We found a good seat and ordered a Baileys (for me) and a Jamesons (for hubby) and settled down. All I can say is the hype is well and truly worth it. To say I was blown away is an understatement, the pianist and singer, Harrison was simply fantastic, his piano playing skills need to be seen to be believed. The guitarist and singer, lends a more soulful voice to a couple of the songs. We will definitely try to get in there again!

Totally enamoured by what we had just heard, we headed to the Crows Nest for our nightly nightcap of a Baileys and a Jamesons.

Again, past midnight and we went back to the cabin after a thoroughly enjoyable day!



Adult: £21.50
Senior (60+) £20.50
Child (5-16 yrs) £10.00

The tickets have to be pre-booked with the day and arrival time. You can arrive up to 50 minutes after your allotted time.

Length of time spent here:
Approximately seven hours.

My Review

We visited on Father’s Day and they were having a hot rod show, (good planning by the Events Team!!). We took a wander around the cars, our son-in-law who is somewhat of an expert in cars, (there isn’t much he doesn’t know about them), enjoyed it a lot.

My grandson loved this car with the eyes in the bonnet.

After a walk around the cars, (there was a lot of them), we stopped for a picnic lunch and then headed towards Little Beaulieu.

This play area was really well thought out, there were separate areas for the younger children, complete with a wooden bus to climb on and a sandpit. Then you had the magical wooden palace with lots of slides and secret passages and for the adults there is a well stocked on-site café,

After we had drank a cup of coffee and Harry had run around the play area, we headed off to the museum. We had to wait outside until our time to go in, we wore masks and followed the one-way system, there was lots of arrows and directions which were easy to follow. There were lots of exhibits from racing cars, to motorbikes, to buses and even children’s toys.

After a trip around on the monorail, which circled the whole of Beaulieu, we then went for a walk around the grounds. As well as holding the car show today, there was also Sculpture at Beaulieu featuring international and national sculptors.

We went to visit the Top Gear Exhibition where a lot of the cars which featured on the Top Gear programme were exhibited. It didn’t take very long to walk through this exhibition, but it was good to see these famous or infamous vehicles.

We finished off the day, where else but the gift shop!

The tickets we purchased allowed us to have an Annual Pass, this only includes entry to the Motor Museum, if you would like one to cover all the attractions, you need to purchase an Annual Pass Upgrade ticket.

A lovely day out, we were blessed with the weather, it had been raining the day before.

Me and hubby in an Instagram picture setting.

Bryn Williams : Porth Eirias

As were were holidaying nearby, staying in a shepherd’s hut, we wanted to try this restaurant as it had been recommended to us and also we knew of Bryn from the Great British Menu….

About the chef:

Bryn Williams originally came from Denbigh, Wales. He was the head chef of Odette’s Restaurant in Primrose Hill, London. In 2006 he shot to fame when, as a sous chef, he beat established chefs to cook the fish course for the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations on the television programme, Great British Menu. He opened Porth Eirias in June 2015 in Colwyn Bay.

Ambience and Service

Walking into the restaurant, it feels very modern industrial, with the steel accessories and complimented with the display of flowers on the back wall. The waiting staff were very attentive, even when the restaurant was busier a little later on. I noted one particular table which you could tell were going to be a little challenging and watched as the waiter patiently took their orders and answered the many questions asked about the dishes in a professional and knowledgeable manner.

The Menu


I had the ham hock terrine and hubby had the mussels. The terrine was very tasty and the apricot was the perfect accompaniment. Hubby enjoyed his mussels, especially the sauce, although two didn’t have any in them, but that’s the luck of the draw!

Main Course

I am not a huge fish lover, so I opted for the fish fingers. The crushed peas were actually the best I have tasted, they were really sweet. The fish fingers were delicious and very filling, so I could only manage three out of the four. Hubby loves fish and he said that the haddock was perfectly cooked. He thought the whole dish was exceptional.


Pudding was a unaminous choice by both of us, it had to be Baked Alaska. This was probably one of the best puddings I have had in a very long time, my all time favourite being a souffle I had at a Marco Pierre White restaurant. The ice cream was just the right amount of melted and the meringue was chewy and gorgeous.

Overall Impression

I really enjoyed eating in this restaurant, there was an easy atmosphere with no pretentiousness at all. The food was excellent and with our meal, including drinks, totaling £72, it was very good value as well. The views were spectacular, overlooking the Irish Sea and Colwyn Bay. This is somewhere that I would definitely go to again!

The restaurant is situated on the beach front.

…In a shepherd’s Hut

Where: Denbigh, North Wales
Cost: £240 for two nights

So now that lockdown has somewhat been lifted, we were able to get away for a few days. We opted for a mid-week break and decided to forgo the traditional bed and breakfast accommodation, hotel or even a caravan and settled on a shepherd’s hut.

We chose North Wales as we normally visit South Wales and thought it would be a nice change!

We stopped off at a couple of Road Service stations and after about four hours of travel, we were in the vicinity of the hut. Several miles of travelling down small country lanes and having to reverse along a narrow road for a tractor(!) and having some difficultly actually finding the hut, we arrived!

The lady who owned the hut met us in the driveway and she showed us around, pointing out where everything was.

The kitchen was very well laid out. The microwave was in the bottom cupboard, there was a kettle, toaster and lots of cutlery, knives and crockery. The water ran hot very quickly.

The owner of the hut had left a bottle of Prosecco and a M&S chocolate cake for us!

The bathroom was compact and the shower was on the small side. The space between the sink and the wall wasn’t that big, so if you are of a larger frame, you might struggle to get into the shower.

Once in the shower, it was nice and hot and the water ran quite fast.

The bed was really comfy and you could watch the TV either in bed or sat on the settee. There was a handy shelf for my phone and glasses, but the problem I had was when I needed to visit the toilet in the early hours of the morning, I had to climb over hubby to get out of bed!

Our first night we decided to try out the kitchen amenities and cook our own meal. We had chipotle grilled steak salad from the Simply Cook recipes and as the weather was so nice, we were able to eat it outside on the veranda. We had made a school boy error by not packing olive oil for cooking, but there was no need to panic, it was provided by the thoughtful hut owner.

Cooking in this small kitchen was a little testing, there was no oven, but you’re not staying there to cook a gourmet meal, so it was great for a simple meal.

I have to mention at this point, the views from the shepherd’s hut were amazing, but don’t take my word for it….

My Thoughts…

I think to stay a couple of days is enough in a space like this, there’s not much storage, our clothes stayed in the travel bags and you have to be really comfortable with your other half, as there’s not much privacy.

But, it is the perfect “get away from it all” space and if you want to put some romance back in your relationship, this is the place to do it!

West Side Story


When I was younger and growing up in a typical council estate house, where the walls were very thin, I can remember hearing the songs of West Side Story wafting across the landing from my older sister’s bedroom, to where I would be sat in the doorway of my bedroom, listening to the songs and my sister singing them, no doubt with hairbrush in hand.  When she was out, I would steal across into her room, take the album and carefully play it on my own record player. I would be lost in the songs, word perfect on them all and falling in love with Tony.

I couldn’t believe it when one day, the film was shown on the television, now not only did I have the words and music, but I could see the characters, Tony was even more handsome that I had imagined.  Of course, when the age of video came along, this was one of my first purchases, now I could watch it whenever I wanted.

As soon as I was old enough, I booked to see it at a theatre, it was our local theatre with a local drama company, but I loved it and years later, I would watch it in London with my husband.

The musical is based around William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with Tony and Maria playing the lead characters. It explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs.

The-JetsThe Jets are an American gang and are led by Riff. Ice is second in command and the rest are: Action, A-Rab, Baby John, Big Deal, Gee-Tar, Mouthpice, Snowboy, Tiger and Anybodys.

Tony was a former member of the group and Riff’s best friend.  There are also the girlfriends of the Jets: Velma, Graziella, Minnie, Clarice and Pauline.

sharksThe Sharks are from Puerto Rico and their leader is Bernardo. His best friend is Chino and Pepe is the second in command. Other members are: Indio, Luis, Anxious, Nibbles, Juano, Toro and Moose. Bernardo’s girlfirend is Anita.

(Yes, I don’t know how they came up with all these names!)

Tony falls in love with Maria at a local dance, who is unfortunately Bernado’s sister. The Jets and the Sharks meet under a highway and Bernardo fights with Ice, Tony intervenes and attempts to make peace, but Bernardo provokes Tony and Riff jumps to Tony’s defense. Riff and Bernardo draw their switchblades and they get into a fight. Tony again tries to intervene but subsequently this leads to Riff being fatally stabbed and Tony then kills Bernardo.

A grieving Anita is angry with Maria for loving Tony, but soon realises that Maria loves Tony as much as she had loved Bernardo and she agrees to pass a message on to Tony for Maria. Whilst she is trying to pass the message, she is accosted by The Jets and she tells them that Chino has shot Maria.

Tony gets this message and he walks the streets looking for Chino and when he finds him, he begs Chino to shoot him too. Tony sees Maria alive, just as Chino shoots him.  The film ends with all the members of each gang assembling either side of Tony’s body and they carry Tony away, thus signifying that the feud is over.

The musical score on this film is the best I have ever heard, with perhaps my favourite being the Tonight Quintet, where the whole cast is singing, the video is below.  I love Gee, Officer Krupke, for the comedic element, although I do notice that Ice is too cool to join in with this song… and obviously America, the upbeat song about Puerto Ricans living in America. The song that I feel was ahead of its time is Cool, sung by Ice after Riff is killed – I don’t think it ever got the recognition it deserved.

The 1961 film adaptation of the musical was the second highest grossing film of the year in the United States. It won ten Academy Awards including Best Picture. Rita Moreno who played Anita, was the first Latina actress ever to win an Oscar. The album won a Grammy Award.

So there you have it, my favourite musical. I have to give honourable mentions to Grease,  Saturday Night Fever and The Rocky Horror Show, each of them so very good in different ways.

What’s your favourite musical? Modern, yesteryear, tragic, funny? Let me know in the comments below.

Bletchley Park


Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 09.12.17


We were lucky enough to receive this as a Virgin Experience Day from our son and his girlfriend as a Christmas present, which included a cream tea – the prices are:

Adults – £20.00
Concessions – £17.50
Children 12 to 17 – £12.00
Children under 12 – FREE
Family Ticket – £52.00

These tickets include an annual season pass, so you can have unlimited returns for a year.

There is free parking on site.

Length of time spent here:

We were here for approximately six hours.

My Review

This is somewhere my husband and I have wanted to visit for a very long time, but it is a good two and a half hours driving for us from the South of England, so when we received this voucher as a Christmas present, we knew that this trip was definitely on the cards.

Alan Turing’s desk

Turing’s Assistant’s desk

I thought that I would come away from Bletchley Park with my ears ringing about Alan Turing and his contribution to the war effort. Yes, he was mentioned and we saw his desk together with his assistant’s desk (I feel that not enough focus is placed on the assistants and secretaries of great people – I feel a blog coming!)

Mavis Batey (nee Lever)

But I was pleasantly surprised to see other people being recognised and their stories revealed: how Mavis Batey (nee Lever) who was just 19 when she worked on the Italian Naval Enigma machine, she broke into their framework and deciphered a message which said, “Today’s the day minus three”. She and her colleagues worked for three days and nights and discovered that the Italians were intending to assault a Royal Navy convoy transporting supplies from Cairo, Egypt to Greece. The messages they deciphered provided a detailed plan of the Italian assault.  There were short stories from people who worked at Bletchley Park describing the entertainment, what the food was like and the fact that there were many romances between staff members.  In fact, Mavis met Keith Batey, a fellow codebreaker at Bletchley Park and they married in 1942.

We took a tour of the huts, which I found really interesting, the offices were all laid out as they would have been in the war.  Phil, my husband, being a chef, loves looking round old fashioned kitchens and me, having worked in offices all my life, I love looking around offices when I get the chance, I especially like the old fashioned typewriters. I do admire anyone who can type fast on these, no spell checker, no delete button, but you do get the bell when you reach the end of a line!

We saw the Bombe, which was the electro-mechanical device that deciphered the German Enigma machine. The initial design of this was produced at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing: Gordon Welchman made the device more efficient by bringing down the deciphering time from two days to 15 minutes.

The Bombe

We had booked ourselves onto a guided tour, which was very interesting, the guide gave us lots of information about Bletchley telling us about the shift system, (three shifts per day), that there was only about 35 people working here at the start of the war and by the end there was about 9000 people. The fact that the work was so secret that the codebreakers didn’t know what the people in the next room were working on. It was an hour tour and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

IMG_0499After the guided tour was the much anticipated cream tea. You do need to pre-book this, it was fully booked on our day.  The cost is £18 on top of the entry fee and for an extra £6.00 you can have a glass of Prosecco.  The menu was:


Blue cheese & broccoli quiche
Gammon ham & cheese finger sandwiches
Smoked salmon, crème fraiche & cucumber open mini roll
Free range egg, mayo & cress sandwiches



Selection of Eclairs
Selection of macaroons
Strawberry sponge
Fruit and plain scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Anna’s homemade shortbread

Your choice of:
Variety of loose-leaf teas or fresh ground coffee

We thoroughly enjoyed the cream tea and it was a lovely way to end our visit.

The lake at Bletchley Park – picture again taken by my husband (he’s getting quite good at these lake scenes!)

Our walk back to the main entrance was via the lake, where in the winter it froze over and the workers used to ice skate and play ice hockey and it was the venue for the clandestine meetings between co-workers.

pigeonMy prize for the most unusual exhibit goes to the pigeon carrier, which would parachute the pigeons to soldiers, for the pigeons to forward on messages to the troops.

All in all, a great day out, with lots of displays and interactive exhibitions to find out if you could cut it as a spy and don’t forget, if you don’t manage to see everything in one day, you can use your annual season ticket to come back another time, free of charge!











Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

Beautiful picture of the lake at Moors Valley – I can’t take the credit for it as my husband took it!


There is no price for entry but you do pay for parking:

Length of time spent here:

Just over four hours. (We had to pay the £12 for parking).

My Review

I went with my husband, Phil, (who has now gotten over the Tottenham game) and my daughter, Amy, and our grandson Harry, who was enjoying his first proper day out with us.

First stop was the cafe, (you’ll come to realise that this is how we start our days out, cafe and then the toilets). We bought three coffees, lattes, and three custard slices, this cost us £17.50 which I thought was a bit steep, but when you saw the size of those custard slices and how lovely they tasted, it didn’t seem so bad.

We planned out our day, while Harry, who has just discovered he has a voice, made squawking noises, much to the amusement of an elderly couple who were sat on the next table. It was almost as though he was saying to us, “Hurry up, I want to go and explore outdoors.” So we followed Harry’s advice and tried to find the start of the red route, which was the longest one at 5 miles (well, I had to walk off that custard slice!).

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.23.39

This is the map we had picked up from reception, but try as we might, we just couldn’t find where the red route started, ended or anything in the middle. We rather hopefully followed a trail, but knew deep down it wasn’t the right one. We decided to cut our losses and followed some signs which led us back to the main area.

We decided that as it was still a bit early and the custard slice was still laying a bit heavy on our stomachs that we would go for a train ride. This was an extra cost, but Harry went free.  The costs were:

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.28.48

We decided on the Adult return tickets and boarded the train. You start from Lakeside station and travel to Kingsmere station.  It was one where you sat on a bench and a miniature sized steam engine pulled the carriages. We went to Kingsmere Station which didn’t seem to take that long and disembarked to cross the bridge where you can take a train back to Lakeside station.

There was a train souvenir shop, a model train set and a tea shop. We had a quick look round and then got back on the train. The journey back was longer and we went through a couple of tunnels, which everyone seemed excited about as we all cheered as we went through!

After the excitement of the train, it was time for lunch. Again, we brought our own lunch and ate it in the picnic field by the train station. There was a Steam Train Fair going on, with lots of locomotives on display and steam engines, with a few classic cars. IMG_0425

But Harry and Phil decided they quite like the remote controlled tanks with the Action Man figures inside. I’m not sure who was having the most fun, the kids running away from the tanks or the men with the remote controls chasing the kids!

The tanks were from the Southern Armour Group, I have linked their Facebook page.

So we sat and watched the tanks while we ate our lunch.

After lunch we decided that the red route was not going to defeat us! So we walked again, with renewed enthusiasm and full stomachs and found the start straight away. It wasn’t really that hard to find as it is marked by a huge totem pole!

This time we were a lot more successful with reading the map, which considering both my husband and daughter are ex-scout leaders, is how it should be, (we’ll overlook the earlier walk!)

We followed the 5 mile route, which did prove a little tricky sometimes, pushchairs and roots poking up from the ground don’t go together well, but it was a lovely walk which ended up at the lake.

The sun had started to shine, it had been a little drizzly earlier on and we came upon a steam engine parade, when Harry nearly jumped out of his skin when one of the engine drivers tooted a whistle at him.

We rounded off the day with an ice cream, which I can say was one of the best ice creams I’ve had in a long time, but we did feel guilty as Harry isn’t old enough to have them yet, so he had to sit in his pushchair and watch us!

Harry denying us every lick of ice cream!

After that it was time to go home. This was a great day out, even though we only did the walks, there is a whole lot of other activities at Moors Valley, including Go Ape. We walked under the course of high wires and Amy and Phil decided that we are going to come back, when Amy’s husband comes back from sea, (he’s a sailor) and they are going to complete the Go Ape course. My reply was, “Good luck with that, I’ll look after Harry.” So, expect a review about that, but not my experience, theirs.