A fantastic week aboard P&O’s Britannia

After a great night sleep in a huge room with my partner Paul at the Hilton; overlooking the Ageas Bowl in Southampton we boarded the Britannia early afternoon on Saturday 20th August.The boarding process was efficient and speedy, and the luggage was taken straight up to our cabin after stepping out of the taxi at the City Cruise Terminal in Southampton. Our cabin on F Deck was immaculately clean, with nothing to much trouble for our Steward; Histon. The balcony on all outside cabins is a great touch on this beautifully decorated ship, with well designed three deck atrium with the ‘starburst’ coming down from the ceiling:We enjoyed a glass of wine as we left Southampton, heading into the Solent; then the English Channel from the private balcony, then took a walk around the ship.

Cabin Balcony

Crow’s Nest Bar

The views from parts of the ships are amazing, and every part has been well designed with timeless features, and I could mention so much. The ship has various restaurants, and bars serving a variety of food with the main restaurants (Meridian, Penninsular and Oriental) all serving 3 course dinners to the Horizon buffet on Deck 16 being open into the early hours if still after a snack or cup of tea. There are also specialist restaurants with a cover charge, which sounded amazing but we didn’t get around to; Sindhu for Indian style food, the Epicurean for luxury, the Beach House, and the Glass House wine bar. There is also the Riviera Bar and Lido Grill by the pool, and Java (coffee shop serving Costa) by the atrium, along with a few other places to get a snack. There is so much choice, I can’t imagine anyone leaving the ship hungry.

Chef’s parade in the Meridian

We were on Freedom dining in the Meridian Restaurant for our evening meals where can eat anytime between 6 and 9:30, and never really waited for a table, and shared with different people each night, and i enjoyed the socialising. On one of the smart dressing night (Thursday) the Chef’s parade through each restaurant so we can all applaud their hard work, along with that of the waiting staff. I feel this appreciation is a lovely touch, to what must be a long shift and so many meals to prepare and serve to over 3,600 passengers. There was also a chance to hear the Captain give a short speech and a photo opportunity on Sunday evening, which with Thursday were our days at sea.

Cheryl Baker in the Limelight Club

I could write so many positives about the entertainment on board with shows put on the entertainment team in the 900 seat Headliners Theatre and acts brought in to perform. We were lucky to see Cheryl Baker (Bucks Fizz, and Record Breakers) do an intimate show in the Limelight Club which included a 3 course meal. I also enjoyed Jayne Middleton as a tribute to Annie Lennox in the Headliners Theatre and the Cuban conjuring comedian; Manuel Martinez performing his ‘adult’ show in the Live Lounge. The Crow’s Nest bar on Deck 16 is also beautifully decorated with long glass windows at the front of the ship, and on some nights was a pianist performing. There is also a pub on board; Brodies which offers a range of ales from across the UK, along with fun quizzes. We were lucky enough to win a bottle of red wine in a syndicate quiz in the Marlowe Suite next to the Crow’s Nest, with the final question being “What is a group of Kangaroos”?

Britannia offshore in Guernsey

I can hardly fault anything on board, with the food service being outstanding, so much entertainment on offer, and lovely bars and spots on the ship to relax. There was also a couple of talks about the destinations and the future of the Internet, and Spanish lessons among other activities, so even on the sea days you can always find something. I thoroughly enjoyed my amazing week on the Britannia,  and will write on my next blog about the 4 destination ports we visited. I have even booked my next cruise, a short break to Bruges and Amsterdam on the Arcadia in November 2017.

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Application for homes at Peel Hall

Developers Satnam are back with their planning application to the borough council, after a consultation was undertaken back in January.

Letters have already been sent out to local residents living in close proximity to the site. Many have continually voiced their opposition for a number of years to previous plans. A petition that was signed by over 1000 back in  February, along with comments will be handed to the council in the next few weeks.

The outline planning application from Satnam is for a new mixed-used neighbourhood with up to 1,200 dwellings, a residential care home, local centre with food store, restaurants and cafes, pubs, hot food takeaways and offices. There would also be an employment area, with uses including research and light manufacturing, sports pitches and a primary school.

Warrington North MP Helen Jones, who has also had a long-standing opposition to the plans said:

“If successful this application will change the face of the area for ever, and one of the last green spaces in Warrington North will be lost for good.”

I feel this development is unwanted by the people locally for many reasons including the extra traffic, access to the new homes, loss of wildlife and habitat, and the loss of sports fields and green space. The effects felt locally will be massive, and there is always other land in Warrington that could used for housing if needed. There has also been other land already earmarked locally by the Omega site along the M62. Feedback from anyone and comments can be given  for 21 days from August 25 to the plans.

The plans are available for viewing on Warrington Borough Council Website:
http://planning.warrington.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/WPHAPPDETAIL.DisplayUrl?theApnID=2016%2F28492&backURL=%3Ca+href%3Dwphappcriteria.display%3FpaSearchKey%3D742048%3ESearch+Criteria%3C%2Fa%3E+%3E+%3Ca+href%3D%27wphappsearchres.displayResultsURL%3FResultID%3D1304725%26StartIndex%3D1%26SortOrder%3DAPNID%26DispResultsAs%3DWPHAPPSEARCHRES%26BackURL%3D%3Ca+href%3Dwphappcriteria.display%3FpaSearchKey%3D742048%3ESearch+Criteria%3C%2Fa%3E%27%3ESearch+Results%3C%2Fa%3E 

For more information and other ways to share your view there are the Facebook groups:

https://www.facebook.com/FightAgainstPeelHallDevelopment/info?tab=page_info

https://www.facebook.com/groups/510153435857814/

Arguing against a result doesn’t mean the end of democracy!

I completely agree with the words of Ian Hislop on BBC Question Time (7th July 2016) “Even if you lose the vote you are entitled to go on making the argument”.

I have seen many comments shared over social media from those who voted to ‘Leave’ about ‘Remainers’ having tantrums, whining and should move on. As a part of our democracy when a election is won no one has to shut up and accept what is going on for 5 years. There would be no need for an opposition party, and of course we would be living in an authoritarian state if so.

I accept that others have a different view, but I personally feel this referendum shouldn’t have happened, and the leave result will be an absolute disaster for many reasons. This isn’t something that can be overturned in 5 years, and allowing the UK to leave the European Union will be something that we can’t go back from as things turn out for the worse in the years ahead.

For those who use statements of “you are Britain hating” etc; it is not patriotic to launch Britain into ‘Brexit’ without a plan on what happens next. The leaders who fought for this campaign or gave us the choice; either resigned or backed away, leaving others to clean up the mess in my view. “Brexit means Brexit” is a lazy statement that doesn’t explain anything. Over two million British citizens living abroad felt disenfranchised with the result, with many not having a say. The legal arguments also state that Parliament should have the final say so lobbying your MP to make a difference, and tactical voting in the near future is the way forward.

I firmly believe that going down the ‘Brexit’ route is wrong on so many levels, and the result was very close anyway. Now is the time to come together and heal the divisions within the country, and with our neighbours before it is too late!

Weird and Wonderful Warrington

In a change to my political blogs of the last 6 weeks or so, I had the chance yesterday (6th August) to visit Warrington Museum and hear a talk on weird and wonderful objects. As I recently signed up as a Culture Warrington member, was offered an invite to the first exclusive event.

Collections officer Craig Sherwood led a fascinating talk about the more extraordinary and rare items in the collection, and offered time to handle some of the objects. These included a Fiji mermaid, a cannibal fork and the scold’s bridle (used as a punishment for women who gossiped). It was an intimate talk in a small room at the back of the museum, with Craig firstly asking “what is weird?” The two answers given were Pokemon Go and those who take part in the game, and my better half describing particle physics briefly.

Fiji mermaid (photo from: www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

The museum has a rare two headed Fiji mermaid which were originally from Japan not Fiji, and presented at side shows as the mummified body of a creature that was supposedly half mammal and half fish.  Craig described that the original object was exhibited by P.T Barnum in his American ‘Museum’ in New York in 1842 and then assumed destroyed in a fire. It also was exhibited in London previous to that, although was realised to be a fake there. 

Cannibal Fork (example from: australianmuseum.net.au/image/fork-fiji-e46814)                                                         

The cannibal fork, similar to the one above was of Fijian origin and known as “Ai Cula Ni Bokola”. They are pronged wooden forks of this type are often assumed to have been used for eating human flesh. The most famous one surrounds a 19th century Chief named Udre Udre, who kept a stone for every enemy he tasted the flesh of, with over 800 over his grave, making him allegedly the most prolific cannibal:

article-image

Warringtom museum has a long history with the original opening in 1848 and moving to the current building a decade later. The museum’s collection was originally based upon the collection of the Warrington Natural History Society but it has since grown in excess of 200,000 objects, covering many areas including natural sciences, antiquities, social history, and various types of artwork. Other museums have a focus on local history but here is a wider range of exhibits. More information can be found at: http://www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk/

 

Is this the calm before the ‘Brexit’ Storm?

Many have had hope in the last month that the economy will be on the up after the initial shock of the referendum result. Statistics in the past few days however have shown that UK economic analysts are in unanimous agreement that a recession will occur in the second half of this year. The only disagreements are on the length and depth, so is this the eye of the storm before it actually hits?:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/statistics-brexit-recession-uk-2016-7?r=US&IR=T

We have been part of the European Union, and the European Economic Community (before 1993) since 1973 and unpicking all the laws will be immensely complicated on a huge scale. As I mentioned in a previous blog I have also seen a figure of £5 billion over the next decade to pay trade negotiators and law firms to sort this, as there is a skills shortage within the civil service. I can also imagine the civil servants who can work on this enormous task thinking ‘Brexit’ is a silly idea, and if given the choice would prefer not to be involved.

Other issues involved with ‘Brexit’ include attracting university students, the uncertainty over science research, and the subsidies paid to UK farmers. There could also be a bitter clash looming over who will foot the bill for paying pensions owed to thousands of British citizens; in countries like France and Spain when the UK does officially leave the EU:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/02/eu-demands-britain-pays-pensions-of-1730-eurocrats-in-wake-of-br/

Conservative peer and former journalist Baroness Wheatcroft said yesterday (1st August) in relation to the approval of article 50 that; “the Lords might actually delay things”. She feels there’s a majority in the Lords for remaining, and if a bill comes forward I can imagine the delay, with experts also called in giving evidence on the vote.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-uk-leaves-the-eu-36940775

All these issues will cause problems for the ‘ Ministry for Brexit’ run by David Davis. For those ‘Remainers’ and regretful ‘Leavers’ who feel disheartened and would like to get involved In stopping the disaster of ‘Brexit’ i would recommend signing up to: http://www.voteforeurope.org.uk/ There is also a Facebook group, both created by David Welsh: https://www.facebook.com/groups/267345493644579/

Even though I was shocked, saddened and disappointed with result a month ago I remain positive that getting together and fighting is the way forward, while thinking of the long term in creating a world we all can be proud of being a part of.