Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rule Britannia!

In June I went away for a few days to Edinburgh, which is now home to The Royal Yacht Britannia where she is moored as a permanent exhibition. HMY Britannia was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 16th April 1953. During her career as Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. This included a honeymoon cruise for the Prince of Wales and Diana in 1981. One notable guest about the yacht included US General Normal Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?" as Britannia's engine room was always kept spotless by the crew as a matter of pride.

I couldn't pass up the chance to visit such a piece of British History while I was in the city so we made our way to the Ocean Terminal, Leith where she is now moored. The photo above is of the bridge and is where the tour begins. I had no idea how big Britannia was until I saw her for myself. Somehow you never really get the 'bigness' of something when you see it on the television.

The tour took you on a specific route throughout the yacht, but otherwise you were free to do the tour in your own time with the auditory guide providing information on each room. It covered both the Royal Family quarters and the crews. The photo above is of the officers bar, which linked to their lounge. It is the playing field of a little known sport called 'Wombat Tennis'. The aim was for two sides to get control of the wombat and get him on the ceiling fan. The wombat was a gift from one of the ladies in waiting and he still resides there on the ceiling fan.

This photo is of the crews sleeping quarters. A large part of the yacht was given to housing the large crew that was needed to keep the yacht running smoothly. Britannia was also designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this never happened and she had medical quarters including a small ward and surgery. She was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986 though.

The Royal living quarters are in sharp contrast to those of the crew, being much more spacious and rich. The photo above is of the family lounge where they liked to gather after dinner for tea and coffee and play cards and other games. The photo below is of the sumptuous dining room where many a distinguished guest from around the world was entertained. The walls of the dining room are adorned with various gifts that were given the Royal Family.

The photo below is of one of the Royal bedrooms. Britannia had adjoining bedrooms for The Queen and Prince Phillip and across the hall was a room containing a double bed which was bought on board the yacht by Prince Charles for his honeymoon cruise with Diana.

A couple of weeks ago I ran a contest asking 'Whose bedroom is this?' and so the answer is of course HRM Queen Elizabeth II. Two people got the answer correct so I will send each a postcard as their prize as promised. They were Niall from Dancing for Beginners and Rashbre from Rashbre Central. Both have excellent blogs and are well worth a visit. Niall does some amazing art simply using tiny dots and Rashbre is a great photographer. Guys, if you would like to claim your postcard then send me your postal address via email on my profile page. It was difficult to get a decent shot of the yacht where she is moored so I thought I would post a stock pic of Britannia from the web so you can see her in her full glory.

Before I go, thanks to everyone who has wished me well while I have been ill. I went back to the doctors and this time came away with a cocktail of drug that are pretty strong but seem to be doing the trick. I have been signed off work for ten days to rest and quite frankly that is a relief as the side effects from the tablets are pretty awful and include trembling and shaking, hot flushes that leave me clammy, dizziness and lack of sense of taste. But hey, at least I can breathe again and the cough seems to be on the retreat. At last.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bring on the trumpets! Apparently.

Thanks to all those who stopped by and left well wishes. I can honestly say I haven't felt so awfully ill in a long looooong time. I am much improved though still far from well, weak as a kitten and still having difficulty breathing properly and that darned cough is still here. I've been coughing for over a month now and the novelty has worn off somewhat shall we say. Enough for me to go back to the doctors next week if needs be despite really hating going anywhere near anything medical. And this time I will refuse to see Dr. Deaf if they give me an appointment with him.

Anyway, I am still working on a post from my trip to Edinburgh (there will be a couple eventually, I promise), but in the meantime I thought I would leave you with this little video. It's an advert for some very tasty natural sweeties that have recently been launched in the UK. It just tickled me is all. The humour is right off the wall and right up my alley :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Doctor Deaf

I didn't take this advice. Bob seemed unwilling and quite frankly his fur tickles my nose so I stuck to regular tissues despite getting through a box a day for the past couple of days. Of course it has to be the aloe balm ones as my nose is sore enough as it is, a sure sign that the 'slime monster' has come back for another party bash in my head. This time he has bought reinforcements in the shape of Headache Horace, Achey Al, Temperature Teena and Coughin' Colin. Actually, Colin was already here, I guess he never really left when I was ill this time last month. It appears that my bronchi are inflamed somewhat and this is playing merry hell with my asthma and I'm wheezing like a pair of old bellows.

All this prompted a return visit to the doctors which is somewhere I hate to go. I've never been fond of medical people due to a couple of negative experiences when I was younger, including one when I was getting headaches nearly everyday only to have the doctor write 'HYPOCHONDRIAC' on my notes. I know that he wrote this as years later I took a look and saw it there in capital letters. The thing is, soon after he wrote this I was eventually diagnosed with migraines.

The doctor I saw this week reminded me of that doctor. I tried to explain that I have had a cough for about a month, and that I had just got much worse but he was not listening. He had read on my notes that I have asthma and that was all he could hear. I tried to explain that I no longer considered myself asthmatic as it never bothers me unless I am ill but all he would do was say my asthma was playing up. I then asked if I could have an airomir inhaler as it's difficult for me to use a normal one at the moment. He refused saying they were too expensive (why do I pay my National Insurance contributions?). I left feeling very frustrated and discontented with the whole experience.

So here I am, off work and pretty much sofa/bed bound. I am bored beyond belief but my head hurts if I use the computer too much. I am working on an Edinburgh post at the moment which I hope to have finished soon, meanwhile I have a photo of an orangutan on my photoblog if you feel like taking a look.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sir Penguin

Nils Olav II inspecting the troops - Edinburgh Zoo

When I visited Edinburgh Zoo in June I had no idea I was in the presence of a famous and high ranking military King Penguin called Nils Olav II. Nils (to his friends) was knighted on 15th August having previously carried the rank of colonel-in-chief. Nils has been promoted each time the Norwegian Kings Guard visit the zoo when they attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Nils is the first penguin to be Knighted which is approved by the King himself. A video of the ceremony which was held at Edinburgh zoo can be seen *here*.

This all came about when a lieutenant called Nils Egelien became interested in Edinburgh Zoo's penguin colony when he attended the Tattoo in 1961. When the Guards once again returned to Edinburgh in 1972, he arranged for the unit to adopt a penguin which was named Nils Olav in honour of Nils Egelien and King Olav V of Norway. The new recruit was given the rank of lance corporal and has been promoted each time the King's Guard has returned to the Tattoo. The original Nils Olav died shortly after his promotion to sergeant, and his place of honour was taken by Nils Olav II. You can hear more about Nils and this bizarre but endearing relationship as a mascot for the Norwegian Kings Guard *here* which is a broadcast from the BBC Today Programme.

The photo above is a picture I took of the King penguins when I visited the zoo. The penguins are let out of their pen every day for a voluntary walk which is a huge attraction. I have no idea if one of them is Nils or not but they all had a military bearing, walking regally along the path taking in the admiration of the crowds. Well, they are King penguins after all!

I will announce the winner of the 'Whose Bedroom' competition soon :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Whose Bedroom?

So... I am still coughing. It's gradually fading away and I am coughing less but the wet weather we are having at the moment has made it worse and if I try and do any exercise I end up having a huge coughing fit so I have had to slow down somewhat :(

I've not done anything exciting lately due to a combination of the coughing and the wet weather. Work is going well. I'm starting to find my feet a little though there is so much to learn. I often come home tired because there is so much to take in. I had some bad news this week. For some reason my Personal appraisal wasn't assigned to one of the panels to be assessed for a bonus. This means that I won't get anything this month when bonus payments are made and I will have to wait an extra month to find out. I should get the basic bonus as I meet these criteria at least, but after the extra responsibility and work I took on when my boss was sick for months I feel I am due a bigger pat on the back. I don't normally like to blow my own trumpet but I deserve it this time even if I do say so myself. It would be nice if my organisation recognised this too.

Anyway, as I haven't got anything exciting to tell you I thought I would share a couple of photo's from my Edinburgh break back in June and pose a question:

Whose bedroom was this?

It is preserved exactly as it would have looked while it was in use with the original furniture. I'm not sure how easy or difficult this will be, but I hope it will be fun. I will draw a name at random from the correct guesses and send that person a handwritten post card from me with a pretty picture of somewhere in the UK. Probably a castle 'cause I like them. So get guessing and try and guess before you read other comments which may either give the game away or lead you astray :) I am working on a post about my break in Edinburgh which I hope will be coming to this blog soon...

Sunday, August 03, 2008


That picture about sums it up for me. These past two weeks I have had such low energy levels since I was ill and my new job seems to suck any energy I have left from me so that by the end of the day it's all I can do to flop onto the sofa. Despite a course of antibiotics, I am still plagued with a really annoying cough too, though thank goodness the slime monster that was inhabiting my head has now vacated the premises. Looks like I will have to go back to the Doctor's if this cough doesn't get better soon though. I'm hoping they'll prescribe a good looking man to rub lineament on my chest...

The new job is going okay though... so far so good... It's a really busy area and now I have been there 4 weeks I am regarded as an expert despite the fact that it takes a good few months to get your feet under the table properly and rediscover the comfort zone. Luckily I'm good at winging it and picking things up as there is so much to learn!

When I rediscover some energy I will post something more interesting. In the mean time you are welcome to drop by my photoblog and check out the cool otter I met while in Edinburgh.