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The weather was absolutely gorgeous as we set off by road from our mooring off Portree, mainly along the coast through Broadford to the Skye bridge onto the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh.  The bridge was not even built when I was here in the sixties and eighties.  We continued along Loch Alsh to where it meets Loch Duich and Loch Long.  At this strategic spot the magnificent Eilean Donan Castle is set. We could not take enough photos of it.  It is a glorious building on a picturesque site on a perfect day.

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Sunrise over Skye

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Portree

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Skye Bridge

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Gorse everywhere

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Eilean Donan Castle

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Return journey

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Approaching Portree by road

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Moored in Portree

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Oban to Malaig

We were tendered ashore at Oban, then driven by coach via Connel and Tyndrum, with a most spectacular drive through Glencoe to lunch at Fort William.  Then we took the Jacobite Express steam train from Fort William to Malaig.  This is the very scenic run following The Road to the Isles.

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This was a very challenging visit and I let David do it alone.  The landing and walking was treacherous, but the birdlife which was not fazed by humans was a joy.  David came back wet but ecstatic!

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Tricky landings

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Wonderful puffins

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A pair of shags

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Oyster catcher

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Nesting shag

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Thrift & lichens

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More puffins

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Shag alert

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Nesting puffin

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It was a very wet visit to Iona.  The rain poured and the wind blew but the zodiak crossings were on moderate seas.  We arrived at the Abbey ahead of the crowd for the 9.00am service and David was asked to read the lesson.  I should have asked if I could ring the bell.  Susan Allen from the Community conducted worship from the Iona Abbey service book.  Afterwards we staggered up to the shop and bought books and souvenirs.  Returning to the ship there was much drying out to do.

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Wet Wendy with Imogen & Elizabeth

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The Nunnery

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The Abbey

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Looking East

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The sanctuary

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The sedelia

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Columbus leaving Ireland

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Back on his feet

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Silver Cloud

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Wild Goose banner

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David reading Luke

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The cloisters

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Highland cattle

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The ship has just passed Staffa and Fingal’s Cave.  Here is a picture taken on a bright sunny day!

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Isle of Man

We docked in Douglas and were transferred by coach to the train station.  Here we boarded a steam train which took us to Port Erin.  On the journey we were served local ales, a slate of local starters, a main course of three meats and vegetables followed by five local cheeses. We were eating for most of the journey.

Transferred by coach from Port Erin we stopped briefly at Castletown, before returning to Douglas.

Next we boarded a horse drawn tram which carried us along the seafront and back to the ship terminal.

It was an adventurous return to Silver Cloud.  We had been pleased that tenders were considered safe and used instead of the zodiaks.  However on return to the ship it took ten minutes to dock the tender safely before we could be transferred back on board.

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Castle at Castletown

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Harbour at Castletown

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Preparations for the TT Races

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Silver Cloud off the Prom

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Electric tram

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Horse drawn tram

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Meeting Charlie

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Dublin

We woke up to find ourselves in the capital of Ireland with the huge cruise ship which sailed past us last night lying ahead of us.  This was the end of the first cruise, we remain on board for the return to London.  There is a large change over of passengers and some crew members as well.

We took a tour into the city and spent much time in St.Patrick’s Anglican Cathedral, the national cathedral, whereas Christchurch is the Diocesan Cathedral, Church of Ireland.

On return we found our captain relaxing over his lunch on the pool deck, as we were.

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Celebrity Eclipse

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St.Patrick’s cathedral

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St.Patrick

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Guiness Window!

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Dean Swift’s travelling pulpit

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Yoga in the park

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Abortion referendum

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Captain at ease

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View from the after deck

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Having arrived in Portrush, our first in Northern Ireland, we found it was calm enough to go ashore in tenders, replacing the bouncy zodiaks.

By coach we proceeded along the spectacular  Antrim Coast to the Giant’s Causeway.  We were among the first arrivals and had a very pleasant viewing with so few people about.  It was very different from our last visit which was on an August afternoon.  David enjoyed an ankle cracking exploration of the basalt columns.

Our next visit was to Dunluce Castle which had its origins 2000 years ago.  The ruined medieval fortified manor house is what can be seen today.  It is a good spot to view the spectacular coastal rock formations.

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