Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

An Eventful Weekend!

What an eventful weekend we have had!

We arrived at the boat on Friday as usual, and I spent the day fitting a timber gate to our new fence that separates us from the farmer's field.

Saturday morning was spent walking around Nantwich as usual, and we had a lazy afternoon on the boat, deferring the trip to Swanley Marina to empty the waste tank for the winter until Sunday. Unfortunately for me at least, Sunday at the boat never arrived.

At about 8.30pm on Saturday night, we were sat in our recliners watching TV, when I commented to Margaret that my left eye was stinging, and I had blurred vision. As she came over to me she noticed I couldn't answer her any more, and I had no control over any of my right hand side, with a dropped mouth. Luckily she knew what was happening, and rang 999 for an ambulance immediately. I was having a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), better known as a stroke. The event lasted around 10 minutes, and by the time the paramedics arrived, I was completely back to normal with no apparent lasting weakness, as the medical people call it. I was able to walk across the field to the waiting ambulance, luckily as it happens, as we dread to think how they would have extracted me otherwise. I was taken to Leighton Hospital between Crewe and Nantwich. Whilst on the ambulance stretcher waiting to be seen by A&E staff, it all happened again, this time lasting around 25 minutes. I was taken immediately into 'resus', where initial tests were carried out. The upshot is that I was admitted to the acute stroke ward of the hospital, wired up like a Christmas tree. Over the weekend I have had a CT scan, (negative), a chest X-ray, (negative), two electro cardiograms - (both good results), a Carotid Doppler ultrasound scan of the neck arteries, (both good results) - I am glad about that result, as if they were the cause, I would still be there now having surgery. However, they could find no apparent cause, except they are sure it was a result of a moving blood clot as opposed to a bleed in the brain, which would have shown on the CT scan.

Two TIA's in close proximity apparently placed me at very high risk and in a dangerous situation.

I have now been discharged from hospital, but can't drive for at least a month, and have been ordered to take things easy. I have also been prescribed additional stroke risk management drugs, but luckily, don't appear to have suffered any long term disabilities as a result. As such, we have now winterized the boat, and will not return there until at least January. It will be looked after by our mooring owner.

Not the best weekend at the boat we have ever had, but take heed.......Enjoy life to the full now, because in the time it takes to 'flick a switch' all that could change forever.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ventura's Cracked Deck

The following is my own report, including images I took during the very early morning after the night the damage occurred, of a large crack that opened up on the P&O Cruise ship Ventura during a very rough night passage of The Bay of Biscay during October 2012. The damage occurred in the upper sun deck that surrounds the central pool area, on the port side. The crack extended through the whole deck on that side, including the large beams that support it from the underneath. A later press report from the company states that the deck was of an alloy construction and didn't affect any of the structural integrity of the ship. After I took these images the damage was totally concealed by tarpaulin.

Vertical sides also cracked through

Taken from below the deck

Displaced window below the damaged deck

Sun beds used to cover the crack

This is the crack that opened with a bang in rough seas last night! It is near a weld, but not the weld, and runs the whole width of the deck. All the deck support girders underneath, including a large RSJ, were also broken clean in two along the length of the damage. A bit of a problem I suspect!

22nd October 2012 update. A P&O Cruises press announcement states that the damage is to an aluminium deck, and does not compromise structural integrity. Inspections were made once back in Southampton, and the ship sailed on schedule on its next cruise.

Images of Ventura

Well, here we are on our last day aboard Ventura, and in the middle of our passage of the Bay of Biscay, which is relatively calm today. For those interested in technical matters, Ventura, launched in 2008, is the second newest in the P and O fleet. Her sister ship, Azura, being slightly newer. They are both around 116,000 tonnes, 950 ft long and 150 ft wide, making them the largest, although the company currently have a new ship in build, due to come in use in 2015 that will be 155,000 tonnes. Ventura uses conventional forward / reverse gearing, as opposed to Oriana's constant prop directional rotation with variable and reversible pitch props. Ventura's propulsion motors are also all electric, drawing power generated from six diesel generators that also provide the power for the rest of the ship. Fuel consumption equates to a mind blowing 96 gallons to the mile! She has a 3000 passenger capacity, served by around 1400 crew. I have included a few images around the public areas here. This cruise has been fabulous, and in food and entertainment, everything that our world cruise on Oriana earlier this year, should have been. However, in the very rough overnight seas, a large 3" crack opened up across the deck at Breakers bar, causing glass to be displaced in the fence both there and below, so I am wondering if the next cruise will be affected.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Our final port of call :-( Gibralter, with views of Algerciras Bay and the Moroccan mountains. For birdwatchers there are over 230 species, not counting the ones that can be found on the beach at Catalan Bay, which is the prettiest :-) Then there are the famous Barbary apes. Unfortunately we only have half a day here before heading for home, calm seas and good weather forecast. Images of the rock, through town to the Governor's residence. Weather today, 76 degrees and sunny.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Built around a natural harbour, the main city and cruise port on Spain's Costa Blanca, Alicanti is also a top beach resort in its own right. With its smart promenade starting at the port gates, it is ideal for the independent traveller to take the free shuttle bus from the ship and enjoy a relaxing day ashore. A much better day today after cloudy Italy at 75 degrees and clear skies.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Today is the last of our trio of excursions. We last visited Naples in January and did our own thing walking around the city, which we found a little shabby in places, so this time we have booked a half day tour to Pompeii. Yesterday's visit to Rome was interesting, but tiring, as it was the whole day, including an afternoon free tn do our own thing, when we visited the Trevi Fountain by foot from our last drop off point at Vatican City. Our visit coincided with student austerity demonstrations if you saw that on the news. These didn't bother us, but there was a high police presence, and to our advantage, the tourist areas were unusually quiet. After Naples it is one sea day to Alicante.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Berthed at Civitavecchia today, about one and a half hours out of Rome, so another excursion booked here. Yesterday, a tender port, went very smoothly. The tenders are of a catameran hull design, and being much newer than Oriana's, are noticably much smoother, particularly the engine and gearbox. Ventura is a huge ship and has many more facilities than Oriana. Even the main theatre, which is not only much bigger, is also much better equipped technologically, so the shows can be more sophisticated. Another noticable difference is that the drinks waiters are also equipped with hand held cruise card scanners, which simplifies the ordering process. Today's tour is 'an introduction to Rome', which includes external visits to the Forum and the Colliseum, with the afternoon free to do our own thing. Weather cloudy, 70 degrees.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Isle of Elba

Today's visit is Elba, in the province of Tuscany, Italy. The place where Napoleon was exiled for 6 months after he was deposed, and before he was sent to St. Helena, where he eventually died. The place is steeped in history, and we are making the most of it with a whole day tour, with lunch included. Yesterday was spectacular, as we were docked alongside, in the marina, and opposite the famous casino. Weather today is again sunshine and 74 degrees.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Monte Carlo

After a fabulous sunny sailaway from Barcelona and an overnight at sea we are now in Monte Carlo, home of the Monaco F1 grand prix. Unusually, as it is a tight berth here, we are docked alongside. The weather conditions on arrival were favourable, and is similar to yesterday, which topped 80 degrees in the end. Again, we are doing our own thing here, but have trips organised for Isle of Elba tomorrow, as well as Rome the day after, then historic Pompeii from Naples after that. Today we will spend walking the Monaco GP circuit.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


After three days at sea, with quite bad weather across the bay, we have now arrived in Barcelona, with a new port each day now. In port with us today is Holland America's Rotterdam. Ventura, being new in 2008, is in beautiful shape, and we believe the general quality to be superior to our last cruise, which, in a way, is the reason we are here - to allow the company to prove themselves to us again. Today's weather is 76 degrees sun, and we are doing our own thing ashore. This is a city for shopping, and so far my purchase has been a pair of soft cream suede casual shoes to go with the summer slacks.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Aboard and settling in.

This is a bloody big ship! Nearly twice as big as Oriana, with only 2 weeks aboard, I suspect will be a completely different experience. The overnight stay at the Ibis Budget was exceptional value, and a slightly firm bed would be my only negative comment. Check in to the ship was also very efficient, arrive, cases taken by porters, car taken by valet parkers, and check in by numbers. Aboard having lunch by twelve! Thanks for the comments, as usual, as I am using my 2G phone, I receive but can't post or reply 'til we get home. Stand by for Barcelona update on Tuesday.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

In Southampton, Med cruise imminent!

We are now safely in Southampton after an uneventful 4hr car journey. We usually stay in Novotel overnight here, but this time decided to try another one of the 3 Accor group hotels on the site, which is directly opposite the docks. This is the ex Etap hotel, not the main Ibis across the car park, now called the Ibis Budget. At £40 inc. Continental breakfast for both of us, it is less than half the price of either of the other two. First impressions are excellent, and falls in the cccc, (cheap, cheerful, clean and comfy), catagory. It also has 24/7 reception, not what it says on the Accor website. Highly recommended. We board Ventura tomorrow, next stop Barcelona, then on to Monte Carlo.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

C+RT appeal for breach repair funds

Yesterday, 1st October, the Canal and River Trust, the charity that recently took over the running of the British Waterways system, launched a public appeal for funding to assist in the repair of the major breach of the Trent and Mersey Canal, which happened on the 26th September.

They state that 'although they have a contingency fund for the £1.5 million cost of repairs, this will undoubtedly divert funding from other canal related essential maintenance'. Am I missing something again, but I thought that a contingency fund meant 'additional' funding to any normal budget already in place meant for routine maintenance? Perhaps some higher power is testing the ability of the new trust to carry out its statutory duties by causing this catastrophe so early in its control. There are many who predicted failure. Only time will tell.

Read the C&RT appeal here: