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Cruise Ships

QE2 sets sail on last world cruise

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LONDON (AFP) – One of the world’s most famous cruise ships — the Queen Elizabeth 2 — set sail Sunday on its final global voyage before being turned into a floating hotel, British media reported.

The vessel left with a fireworks send-off from the southern English port city of Southampton for her last winter trip, the domestic Press Association news agency said.

Her sister ship, the recently-named Queen Victoria, set off on her first world cruise at the same time. Both ships will travel in tandem across the north Atlantic Ocean to New York.

US cruise operator Carnival sold the QE2 for about 50 million pounds (67 million euros, 99 million dollars) in November last year to Istithmar, the investment arm of state-owned tourism company Dubai World.

On return from her final world cruise in April, she will be refurbished and turned into a five-star hotel at a specially-constructed pier on the world’s largest man-made island, The Palm Jumeirah.

Launched by her namesake in September 1967, the QE2 is previous owner Cunard’s longest-serving ship. The 963-feet (294-metre) long ship weighs 70,000 tonnes and can carry up to 1,778 passengers and more than 1,000 crew.

She has travelled 5.5 million nautical miles — the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back 13 times — undertaken 25 world cruises, crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times, and carried more than two million passengers.


Fred Olsen's – Black Watch…

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black-watch-041-copy.jpg

Black Watch Album I
Black Watch Album II
Black Watch Album III

Today, after sending my boy home full of turkey, I spent the afternoon on board Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – Black Watch. The Former Royal Viking Star. It was a grand day. Above are the links to my online photo albums of the photos I took of the ship. They are linked up to the review I wrote for the Cruise Talk Forum. You never know who you will meet on any given day, but my host from GLP Worldwide, the company that represents Fred Olsen in Canada was a most delightful man. We had such a good time. Come to find out after our visit that he was “Family, AND in recovery.” So we had a mini-meeting in a Tim Horton’s at Palais de Congres. It was a great day…

The ship is 28,613 tons, carries 807 passengers and offers a wide array of cruises, all over the world. I have missed the feeling one gets when on board a ship.

Black Watch is a beautiful vessel. She is smaller than the Mega-Ships that are floating cities at sea. I liked this little ship. It has good flow and decor all over the ship. There is a lot of art to see on board.

There is a lot of sentimental art, statuary and portraits of the Royal Family on board. Each ship has a history and is part of the on board experience.

Black Watch has a very intimate feeling. Her public rooms are much smaller in scale due to lower passenger numbers. I have uploaded over 40 photos of the ship linked below.

I have to say that the cabins range from regular inside cabins to Master suites. Most cabins have 2 lowers in the (L) formation for most cabins. There are double cabins as you move upwards in category.

I found the cabins to be airy, very clean, well appointed and all the cabins have excellent storage facilities for luggage for each cabin. Some of the cabins have beautiful furniture, and lighted closets.

There are single cabins, double cabins, quads and master suites. All the cabins are comfortable, even the i/s cabins.

The intimate nature of the Black Watch lends to a very “community” type cruise experience, I am told. You won’t be alone very long on a Fred Olsen ship if you are sailing alone. Most passengers are repeat passengers and for the most part are very open to sitting with others in community.

I got the sense that the crew on board cared a great deal for their ship. Our guide was very nice and the comradery he shared with the staff was wonderful.

Some lower grade cabins on the o/s have bathtubs, by request when booking. They are well appointed. The standard o/s and i/s cabins have showers with the small lip to keep water in. The upgraded and refitted cabins on the o/s (some have) new bathrooms and furniture.

There are flat screen tv’s in all cabins which play on board programming, BBC and Ship Cam from the bridge, and telephones. Some cabins have DVD players as well.

The junior suites were absolutely wonderful in size and decor. The amenities include fruit baskets, wine and champagne, and assorted chocolates and bottled water. We did not get to see the Master Suites due to the fact they were all occupied.

The junior suites have balconies (some of which are obstructed) and there are also standard o/s category cabins that have balconies. The upper suites have sitting areas, sofas and a large balcony on the upper decks.

There are several dining rooms to choose from – you can dine in the usual first or second seating dining room, which is well appointed and has beautiful picture windows on both sides of the ship. Tables seat couples to large parties. The seating is very comfortable.

For our lunch there was a set menu and of course a hot and cold buffet (salads) and desserts. The food was well presented, hot and very good. There is also a buffet that serves food outside the normal dining seatings. (informal dining )

The public rooms are well appointed. There is a theatre that seats up to 150 passengers and runs full feature films, and they also host musical concerts in this room, they have even hosted passenger presentations in the theatre. The ship also hosts many theme related cruises, (see brochures)

The ship has a full amenity beauty salon, barber shop, fitness center and sauna and massage. The outer decks are clean and spacious. The ship has a full library open 24/7 and also has CD and DVD availability for passengers – DVD players are located in higher grade cabins as well. The card and games room is in the same space.

My favorite lounge on the ship had to be the Observatory – on the front of the ship, with commanding views of the sea, appointed in rich blues and gold – with maps on the tables a piano and full amenity bar.

There are several small lounges, rooms, which are well appointed. This being a smaller ship and the fact that the median age of most passenger is over 50, night time activities are not like a Mega-Ship with a disco and bright and flashy palaces of decadence.

The main show lounge is not a huge room and hosts all of the main entertainment on board. Customs had taken over the room and they were not so accommodating, with camera in hand I was questioned more than once, because they thought I was with the press… UGH!! I guess Customs in Montreal are a little “tight.”

The ship has a small ship feel. I did not see any worn carpets. The ship is very well maintained. The reception area is quite beautiful and there are a number of shops, duty free, Jewelry and even a Tuxedo shop on board. There is a future booking office on the ship and we were told that it gets a fair amount of traffic.

There are a number of formal nights on a long haul cruise of 10 days or more. I learned that most passengers do dress on formal nights, tuxedos and such. On less formal nights, jacket and shirt are ok.

There are a number of “flow lounges” off the dining rooms that have “coffee stations” where you can get coffee and tea at any time. I did not take photos of some of the lounges because they were occupied by passengers while the ship was in port.

There are table tennis rooms, an outer court and ample pool space up on deck. There are a number of Jacuzzis astern. I gave you a number of deck shots, including the pools and outdoor amenities.

On good days – buffet lunches are served on deck. And there are a number of bars that serve the outer decks. Room service is available 24/7 on the ship.

There are (4) cabins that are handicapped accessible with wider doors and most of the ship – save the upper decks that are not served by elevators. But passengers should be able to transit out of chairs into the cabins. I did see passengers in wheel chairs on the ship today.

The cabins have kettles for coffee and tea (in cabin) and room service is also available.

There is a very small internet cafe on board that take internet cards for purchase of time. The ship runs on a cashless system, based on the British Pound. We are told that on any given voyage there could be over 20 nationalities on board from all over the world.

The Black Watch is very popular in Australia and Europe and the Baltic. The Black Watch brochures should be out the end of this week for the 2008-2009 world cruises.

I am told that each Fred Olsen ship has a specific demographic. The Black Watch had a much older clientèle than a run of the mill Mega-Ship.

Because of her size – the ship is very quaint. We inquired about LGBTQ passengers, and yes they do cruise on board Fred Olsen, in greater numbers on Braemar and Boudicca. The Balmoral is coming on line. LGBT is not such an issue in other countries unlike the U.S. But the issue came up.

There are not all the “meetings” or “gatherings” like on mega ships, but if you want to have a “meeting for some AA or FOD or other type, rooms can be reserved on board, but they don’t have many scheduled “meetings” that you would commonly found on the Mega-ships.

I DO HAVE SOME NEWS FOR YOU TOO….

Black Prince, it is said should run until 2010.

It is not known whether or not she will be retrofitted to the new ship standards. BUT, the ship was a gift from father to son, so there might be some sentimental value to the ship. And she may end up in another market where the regulations are not that strict. But as far as I was told, she won’t be taken out of service, because I inquired about this issue. She might be moved somewhere else than where she is cruising today.

Who Goes:

Depends on the ship and the itinerary. AS I said the age group on the Black Watch is much older than the Boomers! But I would gather that if you didn’t mind a more laid back and quiet cruise experience then by all means, cruise/see the ship.

I would cruise on Black Watch.

There are not all those “WOO HOO Drink special and buy, buy, buy, announcements” made at all on this ship save for port information and the noon brief from the captain.

The ship has a very comfortable feel, they are not trying to sell you a Mega-Ship experience. That so many different nationalities sail on board, you won’t get ma and pa kettle from the farm on a discount cruise to the Bahamas on board.

The Black Watch does long haul cruises so passengers have money to spend on long holidays from point to point.

I hope you enjoy this review and that you will sail aboard Fred Olsen in the future….


Fred Olsen’s – Black Watch…

black-watch-038-copya.jpg

black-watch-041-copy.jpg

Black Watch Album I
Black Watch Album II
Black Watch Album III

Today, after sending my boy home full of turkey, I spent the afternoon on board Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – Black Watch. The Former Royal Viking Star. It was a grand day. Above are the links to my online photo albums of the photos I took of the ship. They are linked up to the review I wrote for the Cruise Talk Forum. You never know who you will meet on any given day, but my host from GLP Worldwide, the company that represents Fred Olsen in Canada was a most delightful man. We had such a good time. Come to find out after our visit that he was “Family, AND in recovery.” So we had a mini-meeting in a Tim Horton’s at Palais de Congres. It was a great day…

The ship is 28,613 tons, carries 807 passengers and offers a wide array of cruises, all over the world. I have missed the feeling one gets when on board a ship.

Black Watch is a beautiful vessel. She is smaller than the Mega-Ships that are floating cities at sea. I liked this little ship. It has good flow and decor all over the ship. There is a lot of art to see on board.

There is a lot of sentimental art, statuary and portraits of the Royal Family on board. Each ship has a history and is part of the on board experience.

Black Watch has a very intimate feeling. Her public rooms are much smaller in scale due to lower passenger numbers. I have uploaded over 40 photos of the ship linked below.

I have to say that the cabins range from regular inside cabins to Master suites. Most cabins have 2 lowers in the (L) formation for most cabins. There are double cabins as you move upwards in category.

I found the cabins to be airy, very clean, well appointed and all the cabins have excellent storage facilities for luggage for each cabin. Some of the cabins have beautiful furniture, and lighted closets.

There are single cabins, double cabins, quads and master suites. All the cabins are comfortable, even the i/s cabins.

The intimate nature of the Black Watch lends to a very “community” type cruise experience, I am told. You won’t be alone very long on a Fred Olsen ship if you are sailing alone. Most passengers are repeat passengers and for the most part are very open to sitting with others in community.

I got the sense that the crew on board cared a great deal for their ship. Our guide was very nice and the comradery he shared with the staff was wonderful.

Some lower grade cabins on the o/s have bathtubs, by request when booking. They are well appointed. The standard o/s and i/s cabins have showers with the small lip to keep water in. The upgraded and refitted cabins on the o/s (some have) new bathrooms and furniture.

There are flat screen tv’s in all cabins which play on board programming, BBC and Ship Cam from the bridge, and telephones. Some cabins have DVD players as well.

The junior suites were absolutely wonderful in size and decor. The amenities include fruit baskets, wine and champagne, and assorted chocolates and bottled water. We did not get to see the Master Suites due to the fact they were all occupied.

The junior suites have balconies (some of which are obstructed) and there are also standard o/s category cabins that have balconies. The upper suites have sitting areas, sofas and a large balcony on the upper decks.

There are several dining rooms to choose from – you can dine in the usual first or second seating dining room, which is well appointed and has beautiful picture windows on both sides of the ship. Tables seat couples to large parties. The seating is very comfortable.

For our lunch there was a set menu and of course a hot and cold buffet (salads) and desserts. The food was well presented, hot and very good. There is also a buffet that serves food outside the normal dining seatings. (informal dining )

The public rooms are well appointed. There is a theatre that seats up to 150 passengers and runs full feature films, and they also host musical concerts in this room, they have even hosted passenger presentations in the theatre. The ship also hosts many theme related cruises, (see brochures)

The ship has a full amenity beauty salon, barber shop, fitness center and sauna and massage. The outer decks are clean and spacious. The ship has a full library open 24/7 and also has CD and DVD availability for passengers – DVD players are located in higher grade cabins as well. The card and games room is in the same space.

My favorite lounge on the ship had to be the Observatory – on the front of the ship, with commanding views of the sea, appointed in rich blues and gold – with maps on the tables a piano and full amenity bar.

There are several small lounges, rooms, which are well appointed. This being a smaller ship and the fact that the median age of most passenger is over 50, night time activities are not like a Mega-Ship with a disco and bright and flashy palaces of decadence.

The main show lounge is not a huge room and hosts all of the main entertainment on board. Customs had taken over the room and they were not so accommodating, with camera in hand I was questioned more than once, because they thought I was with the press… UGH!! I guess Customs in Montreal are a little “tight.”

The ship has a small ship feel. I did not see any worn carpets. The ship is very well maintained. The reception area is quite beautiful and there are a number of shops, duty free, Jewelry and even a Tuxedo shop on board. There is a future booking office on the ship and we were told that it gets a fair amount of traffic.

There are a number of formal nights on a long haul cruise of 10 days or more. I learned that most passengers do dress on formal nights, tuxedos and such. On less formal nights, jacket and shirt are ok.

There are a number of “flow lounges” off the dining rooms that have “coffee stations” where you can get coffee and tea at any time. I did not take photos of some of the lounges because they were occupied by passengers while the ship was in port.

There are table tennis rooms, an outer court and ample pool space up on deck. There are a number of Jacuzzis astern. I gave you a number of deck shots, including the pools and outdoor amenities.

On good days – buffet lunches are served on deck. And there are a number of bars that serve the outer decks. Room service is available 24/7 on the ship.

There are (4) cabins that are handicapped accessible with wider doors and most of the ship – save the upper decks that are not served by elevators. But passengers should be able to transit out of chairs into the cabins. I did see passengers in wheel chairs on the ship today.

The cabins have kettles for coffee and tea (in cabin) and room service is also available.

There is a very small internet cafe on board that take internet cards for purchase of time. The ship runs on a cashless system, based on the British Pound. We are told that on any given voyage there could be over 20 nationalities on board from all over the world.

The Black Watch is very popular in Australia and Europe and the Baltic. The Black Watch brochures should be out the end of this week for the 2008-2009 world cruises.

I am told that each Fred Olsen ship has a specific demographic. The Black Watch had a much older clientèle than a run of the mill Mega-Ship.

Because of her size – the ship is very quaint. We inquired about LGBTQ passengers, and yes they do cruise on board Fred Olsen, in greater numbers on Braemar and Boudicca. The Balmoral is coming on line. LGBT is not such an issue in other countries unlike the U.S. But the issue came up.

There are not all the “meetings” or “gatherings” like on mega ships, but if you want to have a “meeting for some AA or FOD or other type, rooms can be reserved on board, but they don’t have many scheduled “meetings” that you would commonly found on the Mega-ships.

I DO HAVE SOME NEWS FOR YOU TOO….

Black Prince, it is said should run until 2010.

It is not known whether or not she will be retrofitted to the new ship standards. BUT, the ship was a gift from father to son, so there might be some sentimental value to the ship. And she may end up in another market where the regulations are not that strict. But as far as I was told, she won’t be taken out of service, because I inquired about this issue. She might be moved somewhere else than where she is cruising today.

Who Goes:

Depends on the ship and the itinerary. AS I said the age group on the Black Watch is much older than the Boomers! But I would gather that if you didn’t mind a more laid back and quiet cruise experience then by all means, cruise/see the ship.

I would cruise on Black Watch.

There are not all those “WOO HOO Drink special and buy, buy, buy, announcements” made at all on this ship save for port information and the noon brief from the captain.

The ship has a very comfortable feel, they are not trying to sell you a Mega-Ship experience. That so many different nationalities sail on board, you won’t get ma and pa kettle from the farm on a discount cruise to the Bahamas on board.

The Black Watch does long haul cruises so passengers have money to spend on long holidays from point to point.

I hope you enjoy this review and that you will sail aboard Fred Olsen in the future….


Religions of Tibet

Buddha with a view

More on this topic later this evening.

The Class is amazing. Many of my friends from last term are in the class as well. I really like my professor, because he brings real life stories from his visits to Tibet and surrounding areas of that far land to the classroom, so this isn’t just class, but it is a real life educational trip to a real place not only read about in a text book.

I’m tired so I shall write some more later. I don’t have class on Friday’s so we are back to regular schedule now. I get my 3 day weekend now, with Friday being cleaning day at home.

Talk to you soon…


Cruise Ships coming to Montreal: Fall Schedule 2007

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Cruise Ships coming to Montreal: Fall Schedule 2007

On October 8th I have been granted access on board the Fred Olsen Cruise Liner – Black Watch by GLP Worldwide Expeditions, who are representing Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in Canada. There are travel shows beginning in Vancouver and Victoria next week, and move Eastwards across Canada, calling in Alberta and as well Ontario.

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On September 22 – and 23 the Arctic Sunrise will be ported at the Old Port in Montreal with open ship tours on both days from 12 noon to 6 p.m.

The Fall Foliage Cruise ship calendar is getting busy I will be posting other dates here as I get them.

August 2007

22 – Spirit of Nantucket
25 – Maasdam
26-27 – Spirit of Nantucket

September 2007

6-7 – Spirit of Nantucket
8 – Maasdam
8-10 – Grande Caribe
9-10  – Alexander von Humbolt
14-16 – Grande Caribe
15 – Christopher Columbus
19 – Veendam
22 – Maasdam
27 – Saga Ruby

October 2007

1-3 – Grand Mariner
2 – Crystal Symphony
6-9 – Grande Caribe
8-9 – Black Watch


China frees 3 Canadian activists after Tibet protest

CBC.ca

Canadians, all from British Columbia, were demanding China pull out of Tibet

Three Canadians arrested by Chinese police following a protest at the Great Wall against China’s presence in Tibet have been released.

Melanie Raoul of Vancouver was arrested Tuesday in China.

Melanie Raoul of Vancouver was arrested Tuesday in China.
(Courtesy of Freya Putt)

The British Columbian activists — Lhadon Tethong, Sam Price and Melanie Raoul — left China after their release on Wednesday and flew into Hong Kong.

“It was draining, exhausting, psychologically traumatizing, although we weren’t physically hurt,” Raoul, 25, told CBC News from Hong Kong.
bc-070807-tibet-sign.jpg

Raoul and Price, both of Vancouver, were arrested Tuesday after they unfurled a 42-square-metre banner reading “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008” in English and Chinese from the Great Wall.

The banner adds three words — “Free Tibet 2008” — to the official slogan of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which began their one-year countdown on Tuesday.

Tethong, 31, was arrested Wednesday. She was not involved in the Great Wall protest, but she spent her time in China writing a blog and posting videos and photos online about what the group calls China’s “propaganda campaign” leading up to next year’s Olympic Games.

Five other activists — two from the U.K and three from the United States — were also arrested and released.

All the activists are part of Students for a Free Tibet, a New York-based group for which Tethong serves as executive director.

Tethong said the group knew their actions on the Great Wall weren’t legal and that arrests were a possibility.

Lhadon Tethong, one of three Canadian protesters released by Chinese authorities, is seen at a Buddhist temple in Beijing in this undated photo.

Lhadon Tethong, one of three Canadian protesters released by Chinese authorities, is seen at a Buddhist temple in Beijing in this undated photo.
(Beijing Wide Open/Canadian Press)

“We knew that was the most likely scenario, but it’s not like it was the goal of what we were doing,” said Tethong, a Tibetan-Canadian who was born and raised in Victoria, but now lives in New York.

“The goal was to raise the issue.”

“Some people might think that’s sort of extreme, but we would say China violating the fundamental human rights of Tibetans and their own people and the cultural genocide of Tibet is extreme.”

Police surrounded Tethong in front of an Olympic merchandise store in Beijing and demanded to see her passport. They brought her into a police station, where they showed her printouts of her blog.

“They definitely took jabs at me for being Tibetan,” Tethong said. “They were saying I have an an accent like a Chinese and I have blood from China.”

We were scared for her
Tethong’s sister, Deyden Tethong, told CBC News that she and her family were scared while Tethong was in custody.

“It was nerve-racking for us,” Deyden said at 12:15 ET, about 15 minutes after learning that her sister had boarded a plane out of Beijing.

“We were very scared for her, but at the same time she keeps saying, ‘I have a Canadian passport, so I know people are looking out for me.'”

Sam Price, 32, was one of six activists arrested Tuesday in China.

Sam Price, 32, was one of six activists arrested Tuesday in China.
(Courtesy of Freya Putt)

Deyden said she was surprised her sister was detained, since she was not part of the group of activists on the Great Wall.

“The activists that were taken off the Great Wall, that made sense,” Deyden said. “It was pushing the boundaries and it was illegal, but my sister, all she was doing was blogging about her feelings … and talking about what she saw and what she felt.”

Raoul’s mother, Valerie, said she is excited to see her daughter again.

“We don’t know when they’ll be coming back to Vancouver, but they know they’ll get a really big welcome,” she said.

Harper Promised to Help
The incident drew international attention, with videos of the Great Wall protest posted on YouTube. Prior to news of the activists release, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday that his government was working to gather information.

“We’ll be doing everything we can do to help and of course pointing out to the Chinese government — as we’re entitled to do — that such expressions of opinion are a natural part of the human rights that Canadians do expect in this country,” Harper said.

The Students for a Free Tibet group wants Tibet freed from China and say the Chinese government is using the Games to gain international acceptance.

The group also wants the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to push the case for Tibetan freedom.

China invaded Tibet in 1950, and in 1999 declared it to be an “inseparable part of China.” In 2004, a government policy paper said Tibet had always been part of China, and before the Chinese imposed direct rule, Tibet was “even darker and more backward than medieval Europe.”

With files from the Canadian Press


The Love Boat …

Love Boat Theme

Can you remember the 80’s when the Love Boat was at it’s height of success, on a Saturday night, followed by Fantasy Island at 10 p.m. I used to go to Dodge Island in those days and imagine myself on the decks of the Carnivale or Festivale or Mardi Gras, or even the white fleet of NCL, back in the day.

Even then, Holland America was sailing the Volendam and Veendam from the Port of Miami. In those days I would scout out all the local travel agencies and collect piles and piles of brochures that I would ravage and hang brochure photos of ships all over my bedroom walls. I was insane for the cruise ship.

On Saturday nights, I would sit in front of the TV with my brochure in hand and like Julie McCoy, I would check in passengers to their cabins, by the deck plans (in the brochure). The favorite cabins, Promenade 348 actually was a cabin on the ship. Many were not on the deck plans.

Later in my travel agent career I did finally get to set foot ABOARD the ‘Pacific Princess’ on a stop in Ft. Lauderdale for a tour. That was one of the most exciting ship visits I had made during those years. You know that on the Pacific Princess of Ole’ you enter through the Coral Deck, not the Promenade deck. There was no doorway on the deck. That grand room with the sweeping staircase is self contained.


Colourful history of famous ship

from BBC News Online:

The QE2

The QE2 will be berthed to the world’s largest man-made island

Britain’s most famous passenger liner, the Queen Elizabeth 2 is to be turned into a floating hotel after being sold to Dubai for £50m. The former flagship of the Cunard line, the QE2 has broken records, transported troops and hosted royalty during her 40 years at sea.

The 70,000-tonne vessel is one of the largest passenger ships afloat, with a top speed of 32.5 knots. It is the fastest merchant ship in operation.

Built at the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde in Scotland, she was known only as “Job number 736” until she was officially launched by the Queen in September 1967.

She is not actually named after the Queen. Her full name indicates instead that she is the second ship to have been called the Queen Elizabeth.

Troop carrier

The famous liner is 963ft long, 105ft wide and can carry as many as 1,778 passengers and more than 1,000 crew.

Her first captain was Bill Warwick, who took her on her maiden voyage to Las Palmas, setting off on 22 April, 1969.

Since then she has she has undertaken 25 world cruises, crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and carried more than 2.5 million passengers.

In 1971, she rescued passengers from another ship, the Antilles after it ran aground.

And in 1982 the vessel was requisitioned as a troop carrier for the Falklands War.

With 3,000 troops on board she set sail for South Georgia on 12 May, arriving back in Southampton safely on 11 June.

QE2 FACTS

963 feet long

Carries 1,900 passengers and 1,000 crew

Crossed Atlantic over 800 times

Top speed 32.5 knots

In 1992, the QE2 herself hit uncharted rocks off Massachusetts in the US. She also survived being hit by a 95ft wave after running into Hurricane Luis in September 1995.

The new 150,000-ton Queen Mary 2 took over the QE2’s role as Cunard’s flagship in 2004.

In January more than 300 people caught a highly infectious vomiting bug – the Norovirus – while on board the ship.

Now the QE2 faces a future moored to a pier at the Palm Jumeirah development – the world’s largest man-made island – off the coast of Dubai, after being sold by Cunard’s parent company, Carnival.


The Tea Ceremony

280px-seiza_woman_tea.jpg

“When tea is made with water drawn from the depths of mind, whose bottom is beyond measure, we really have what is called
cha – no – yu.”

Toyotomi Hideyoshi
15th century


Musicians unlock mystery melody in chapel

rosslyn1.jpg

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – A Scottish church which featured in the best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code” has revealed another mystery hidden in secret code for almost 600 years.

A father and son who became fascinated by symbols carved into the chapel’s arches say they have deciphered a musical score encrypted in them.

Thomas Mitchell, a 75-year-old musician and ex-Royal Air Force code breaker, and his composer and pianist son Stuart, described the piece as “frozen music.”

“The music has been frozen in time by symbolism,” Mitchell said on his Web site (www.tjmitchell.com/stuart/rosslyn.html), which details the 27-year project to crack the chapel’s code.

“It was only a matter of time before the symbolism began to thaw out and begin to make sense to scientific and musical perception.”

The 15th Century Rosslyn Chapel, about seven miles south of the Scottish capital Edinburgh, featured in the last part of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” — one of the most successful novels of all time which has been turned into a Hollywood film.

Stuart Mitchell said he and his father were intrigued by 13 intricately carved angel musicians on the arches of the chapel and by 213 carved cubes depicting geometric-type patterns.

“They are of such exquisite detail and so beautiful that we thought there must be a message here,” he told Reuters.

Years of research led the Mitchells to an ancient musical system called cymatics, or Chladni patterns, which are formed by sound waves at specific pitches.

The two men matched each of the patterns on the carved cubes to a Chladni pitch, and were able finally to unlock the melody.

The Mitchells have called the piece The Rosslyn Motet and added words from a contemporary hymn to complete it.

They have also scheduled a world premiere at a concert in the chapel on May 18, when four singers will be accompanied by eight musicians playing the piece on medieval instruments.

Simon Beattie of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust said he was delighted to have the mystery finally solved, and was intrigued by the music itself.

“It’s not something you would want to put on in the car and listen to, but it’s certainly an interesting piece of music,” he said. “It’s got a good medieval sound to it.”


Bhaddekaratta Sutta

Buddha with a view

‘Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who knows
how to dwell in mindfulness
night and day
‘one who knows
the better way to live alone.’

Text: Adapted from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta,
translated by Thich Nhat Hanh
Seen over at: All Things But None